In this edition of Forage Focus, host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County is joined by Clifton Martin, OSU Extension- ANR Educator for Muskingum County, for a segment on “Getting to Know Your Weeds.” Clifton and Christine will identify weeds commonly found in Ohio pastures and hay fields, and address the principles of managing them.
Last week, USDA released the declaration that a cover crop planted onto prevented planting acres can now be harvested as a forage after September 1st, rather than the normal date of November 1st, which provides a small glimmer of hope for some livestock producers and those equipped to harvest forages. While Ohio is also experiencing a severe shortage of forages for all classes of livestock, weed control on prevented planting acres is a major concern, and with USDA’s declaration, we can now address both problems in one action – seeding cover crops that will be harvestable as a forage after September 1st.
Oats, planted in July through early August, have commonly yielded from 2 to as much as 5 tons of dry matter in 70 to 90 days
OLUMBUS, Ohio—Excessive rainfall has not only hindered soybean and corn farmers’ attempts to plant, but has contributed to a near record-low level of hay to feed livestock in Ohio and across the Midwest.
The hay inventory in Ohio has dipped to the fourth lowest level in the 70 years of reporting inventory, leaving farmers struggling to find ways to keep their animals well fed, said Stan Smith, a program assistant in agriculture and natural resources for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).
Excessive rain has contributed to a severe dip in the hay inventory across the Midwest. (Photo: CFAES)
Online Source: Greenfield Township Fire Department
Our area has many hay farms, and with the amount of rain we have had and probability that it will get bailed wet, there is the potential for fire. While it can be easy to get in a rush, avoid barn fires by ensuring your hay is dry enough before you bale it.
“When hay is baled at moisture’s over 20% mesophilic bacteria release heat causing temperatures to rise between 130°F and 140°F. If bacteria die and bales cool, you are in the clear, but if thermophilic bacteria take over temperatures can raise to over 175°F,” according to Jason Hartschuh a guest contributor to Ohio State University Extension’s Ag Safety Program.
Most wet bales catch fire within six weeks of baling, Hartschuh says. Here are some things to consider when determining if your hay is at risk of fire. Did the field dry evenly? Were moisture levels kept at or below 20%? If moisture was higher than that, was a hay preservative used?
If you are concerned that your hay is a fire risk, monitor it twice a day for the first six weeks or until low temperatures stabilize, he says. Temperatures should be taken from the center of the stack or “down about 8 feet in large stacks.”
Not only can wet hay catch fire, but it can mold. Hartschuh says bale temperatures of 120° to 130° F often results in mold growth and makes the protein less available to animals.
“While those temperatures are not high enough to cause hay fires, the concern is if the mold growth continues and pushes temperatures upward into the danger zone,” he says.
According to research from OSU, if the temperature in the hay continues to rise, reaching temperatures of 160° to 170° F, then there is cause for alarm.
“At those elevated temperatures, other chemical reactions begin to occur that elevate the temperature much higher, resulting in spontaneous combustion of the hay in a relatively short period of time,” Hartschuh says. “If the hay temperature is 175° F or higher, call the fire department immediately, because fire is imminent or present in the stack.”
Critical Temperatures and Actions to Take
The team from OSU extension recommends monitoring the following temperatures and taking appropriate action.
125° – No Action Needed
150° – Hay is entering the danger zone. Check twice daily. Disassemble stacked hay bales to promote air circulation to cool the hay outside.
160° – Hay has reached the danger zone. Check hay temperature every couple of hours. Disassemble stacked hay to promote air circulation to cool hay have fire department present while unstacking from here on.
175° – Hot pockets are likely. Alert fire service to possible hay fire incident. Close barns tightly to eliminate oxygen.
190° – With the assistance of the fire service, remove hot hay. Be aware the bales may burst into flames.
200°+ – With the assistance of the fire service, remove hot hay. Most likely, a fire will occur. Keep tractors wet and fire hose lines charged in the barn and along the route of where bales are to be stacked.
By: Ben Brown, OSU Extension Program Manager- Farm Management Program
WASHINGTON, June 20, 2019 – Farmers who planted cover crops on prevented plant acres will be permitted to hay, graze or chop those fields earlier than November this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today. USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) adjusted the 2019 final haying and grazing date from November 1 to September 1 to help farmers who were prevented from planting because of flooding and excess rainfall this spring.
– Dwane Miller, Penn State Extension Educator, Agronomy
Whether you’re taking the crop as haylage or dry hay, it’s important to pay attention to forage cutting height. One of our goals as farmers is to maximize our yield; however, cutting a crop too low can lead to several negative issues. The introduction of the disk-type mowers (discbines) allows for cutting very close to the ground. I’ve seen many fields that have been “scalped” right to ground level. This differs considerably from the older sickle bar mowers (haybines), whose technology required that some level of stubble height remain. Stand longevity can be compromised when the crop is cut too low. As a general rule, alfalfa can be cut closer to the ground than our grass crops. We need to think about where energy reserves are stored in the crop. For alfalfa, carbohydrates are stored below the ground in the taproot. Grasses store their energy above ground in the stem base or tillers. Frequent mowing at a close height will continue to deplete these energy reserves, resulting in stand longevity issues.
Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County
With the combination of sunny warm days and more than adequate rainfall received so far in May, grasses and legumes in our hayfields are beginning to flower. Which means, according to our knowledge of grass maturity and forage quality, it’s already time to make hay. If the weather will cooperate, that is.
Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
Dr. Bill Weiss, Dairy Nutrionist, The Ohio State University
Many forage stands were damaged this past winter, and the wet spring has further deteriorated stands that appeared they might recover. It is now too risky to try to establish perennial forages, with the warmer summer weather at our doorstep. We should wait until August to establish perennial stands. Meanwhile, what options can we consider for growing forage this year?
– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist (Sourced from the OSU BEEF Team Newsletter)
took the time to walk through most of my pastures a few days ago. I recommend doing this fairly often to keep a mental forage inventory. It is best to record the findings. Some use fancy electronic data sheets, some track on paper charts, some just have notes in their pocket datebook or smart phone. I use a combination. I like the paper charts for long term planning, but for a quick assessment, I like a white board.
More residual left and more rest; more roots, more production and animal performance
For those with pastured livestock, this past winter is one we would like to forget, but damage done is preventing that from occurring. Many farmers talked about the loss of livestock due to the wet weather and mud. To make matters worse, more hay had to be fed to deal with the additional stress on animals from the muddy conditions. The result was animals in a lower body condition and fields in a mess from livestock, feeding hay in the fields, and equipment trying to get hay to livestock.