Ohio Noxious Weed Identification – Week 16 Poison Hemlock

Poison Hemlock

Family: Parsley, Apiaceae.

Habitat: Wet sites, gardens, roadsides, wastelands, pastures, and meadows.

Life cycleBiennial, forming a rosette the first year and producing flowers and seed in the second.

First Year Growth HabitBasal rosette of finely divided leaves with a pungent odor.

Second-Year Growth Habit: 2-7 feet tall, branched plant with flowers.

LeavesAlternate, pinnately compound, finely divided, toothed, and glossy green.

Stems: Branched, waxy with purple blotches; hollow between nodes and grooved.

FlowerJune – August (second year). Clusters of small white flowers with 5 petals in a loose, umbrella-like cluster, 2-7” across.

Root: Fleshy taproot.

Similar plants: During the first year, poison hemlock resembles wild carrot, but has a strong, pungent odor. Further, young leaves of wild carrot are more finely divided and its stem is hairy. At maturity, poison hemlock can be difficult to distinguish from water parsnip and water hemlock. Look for purple blotches on the stem to identify poison hemlock. Water hemlock (Cicuta maculata), which is also highly poisonous, has a magenta-streaked stem and lanceolate leaflets with sharply-toothed edges. Water parsnip (Sium suave) is not poisonous and has toothed lanceolate leaflets.

The problem is….This plant is highly poisonous to both humans and animals. Poison hemlock is a large and impressive plant which has been planted as an ornamental in some areas. It grows quickly in fertile soils.

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Ohio Noxious Weed Identification – Week 15 Johnsongrass

Johnsongrass

FamilyGrass, Poaceae.

Habitat: Rich soils, cultivated fields throughout Ohio.

Life cycle: Perennial, spreading by rhizomes and seed.

Growth Habit: 3-6 feet or more.

Leaves: 0.5 -1 inch wide, smooth blades with a prominent white midvein.

Flower: July – October. Can be up to 1 foot or more in length; panicles are loosely branched, purplish, and hairy. spikelets occur in pairs or threes.

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Temporary Fencing- The Future of Grazing

Johnny Rogers, North Carolina State Grazing Program Coordinator
(Previously featured in Hay & Forage Grower: February 15, 2018)

There’s power in polywire

Pasture-based livestock production at first glance is a simple system. Producers use herbivores to harvest forage and create something they can sell (or enjoy).

In the past, it has been typical to use a continuous grazing system where livestock will remain on the same pasture for an extended period, but this can lead to poor forage utilization. Livestock will roam large pastures as they seek out their preferred plant species and leave others to become degraded, mature, and unpalatable.

Many producers do not appreciate the value of grass until they do not have enough during periods of drought or while feeding through winter. Numerous studies have evaluated the cost of grazing versus feeding hay or other stored forages; in most cases, extending the grazing season is profitable.

Farmers will spend large sums of money to harvest, store, and feed hay. In most cases, they would not consider giving cattle full access to stored supplies.

Why not do the same when utilizing your pastures?

 

 

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Mud Control is Grazing Management

By: Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Wayne County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

An unseasonably warm February led to mud management issues for many pasture-based livestock operations. Spring typically leads to our April showers and the “traditional” time of managing around mud. We just arrived in mud season a little earlier.

All this mud is an undesirable condition, from an animal performance, resource management and environmental perspective.

Graziers need to have a mud control plan as part of a comprehensive grazing management system.

Within a grazing system, mud does not just happen. Wet soils combined with livestock create mud.

How quickly mud is created depends upon the number of livestock in a given area, the weight of those livestock, the saturation level of the soil, the time of year, and the strength of the surface to support those livestock.

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There’s Still Time to Manage Pastures

 

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

It seems that we try and crowd way too much into some months, especially December, when we probably should be slowing down and enjoying family and friends and the reason for the season. I have a hard time accomplishing that.

What percent of this pasture is clover?

I just spent a week on the Tennessee-Kentucky line with a national work team revising the NRCS pasture condition scoresheet. Pasture regions across the nation were represented, including Alaska. Our charge was basically to build a better mousetrap; well, rather a better pasture condition scoresheet, which would work anywhere tame pasture exists, cover all grazing systems, use simple visual indicators, and include some soil regenerative features.

After revising, rewriting, testing, and repeating that process several times we were all mentally and physically exhausted. Remarkably, we came to a consensus and I look forward for the release of this revised tool in the near future. I mention this because all of the people in this group are somewhat like-minded when it comes to pasture management, but we all do not “see” things the same way.

The amount of clover present in a field can be somewhat difficult to estimate. Clover, or any leguminous plant are important sources of nitrogen for pastures and also certainly improve the forage quality for the grazing livestock. This time of year, most legumes have really slowed down or have already gone dormant. I hope that you have observed the amount of clover you have in each field so you know if it is sufficient or not as we start preparing for the 2018 forage season. Pastures that have little or no legumes present often lack sufficient nitrogen unless an alternative means is used.

Ideally, about 30 to 40 percent of the pasture sward should be legumes by dry weight to maintain forage quality and to provide sufficient nitrogen. Without getting too far off subject, legumes vary on the amount of nitrogen they provide, their forage quality, and also positive and negative attributes.

Legumes fix nitrogen in root nodules. Rhizobia bacteria in the soil enter the root. The correct rhizobium bacteria must be present for the species present, thus the reason for making sure that you inoculate seed prior to planting legumes. Those nodules if you cut them open will turn from a white or gray to a nice pink over time, which indicates nitrogen fixation is occurring. That reddish color comes from leghemoglobin that is the controlling factor for oxygen flow for the bacteria. Note the “globin” on the end, very similar to hemoglobin in your blood.

Dried clipping of above picture. Clover is 22% of the sward by dry weight.

Generally, improved white clovers provide the most nitrogen. Red clover also can provide a good amount, plus it has added benefits when used in tall fescue fields, but I’ll revisit that subject another time. When estimating the amount of clover, visual estimates are precarious at best, especially if done by windshield. If you stand in the field during the normal growing season and look down, you can get a somewhat decent estimate by observing what amount of occupied canopy is the legume. Sticking to clovers for now, that visual estimate is generally about half what the actual dry matter weight is going to be. In other words, if it appears that the clover is about fifty percent of the canopy cover, then the dry matter percentage is generally about 25 percent.

If you want to see this illustrated, take a clipping from a represented site, separate out the legumes, weeds and forbs from the grass, and then dry them down and weigh each when dry. For most of cool season legumes, you’ll find that that visual estimate will hold true at about 50 percent at dry weight. If the pastures contain less than 20 percent by dry weight, then it would be advantageous to add more legumes to the pasture. I actually prefer an amount greater than that, 30 to 40 percent by dry weight.

Certainly, you can get too much clover in some cases, especially with legumes that can cause bloat. Higher percentages need to be managed carefully. Now is the time to be ordering clover seed for frostseeding if you have not done so already. Typically, you will want about six to eight pounds per acre of red clover at pure live seeding rates or one to two pounds of improved white clovers. White clover seed is much smaller seed with a lot more seeds per pound than reds and will cause more bloat issues if there is too much. Coated, inoculated seed is probably ideal for the white clovers. Bulk pounds per acre will be more if using coated seed due to the inert coating which is generally about 33 to 34 percent of the bulk rate. Look closely at germination and purity percentages when buying seed as generally you get what you pay for.

We’ve had some unusually warm spells the last few weeks. Forages that really should’ve been dormant by now have continued to grow some. Could you, should you, graze it? If you need to supplement the pasture with more legumes by frost seeding later this winter, then grazing it will help suppress spring growth some and reduce competition for the clover. If not, then it is best to wait at least until the grass has decided that winter really is here and goes dormant.

Those root reserves will help jumpstart spring growth if not compromised, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to leave a little growth behind. That combined live plant residual and dead plant residue will be valuable over winter for slowing runoff, protecting the soil from erosion, and improving infiltration. The combination of more above-ground residual material and more live roots below ground will also make for quicker growth of a new solar panel of leaves in the spring. Leaving at least one or two pastures with a fair amount of residual to mix with that lush, high moisture spring grass is also beneficial and makes a great place for spring calving.

Keep on grazing!

Grazing Wind Damaged Corn Residue

Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Southeast Regional Director

Although this information has been posted in the past, as harvest has come and gone, this opportunity may serve as a viable option for those looking for a cheap feed source to graze the mature ewe flock on. This strategy allows farmers to optimize on losses associated with harvest as well as serve as a means to save on winter feedings.

To survive the current feed economy livestock producers need to graze their livestock as long as they can.  Every day livestock are meeting their nutritional needs through grazing they are being fed as economically as possible.  Typically cattle producers utilize corn residue as a feed source but, in Ohio, sheep producers need to consider grazing corn residue as well.  When corn stalks become available for grazing livestock producers need to move to take advantage of this resource.

Because the feed is in contact with the ground and deteriorating in the field you should start grazing corn residue as soon as the combine pulls out of the field. The nutrient value of residue declines the longer it is exposed to weathering. Sixty days after harvest is the window for maximum feed value. After 60 days it may not meet the needs of your livestock and you will need to provide supplemental feed. Grazing residue right away will provide a better feed.

Wind damaged fields can have more grain left in the field after harvest than normal.  Check fields for excess grain before grazing. Too much corn left in the field can cause acidosis and founder. In these cases cattle need to be adapted to a higher grain ration before grazing. They should initially be turned into residue with their rumens full if a problem is expected.

Strip grazing will also force the animals to eat leaves, cobs, and stalks instead of just gleaning the grain.  Giving animals only a few days or weeks worth of corn residue at a time utilizes the forage more efficiently.  Strip grazing provides a more uniform diet.  Leaving cattle in the entire field for a couple months or longer means the livestock will initially pick the grain and some of the leaves. Eventually they will only have the stalks, or the least nutritious plant part, left and will need to be supplemented.

Typically fence and water are the excuses used for not grazing corn residue.  There are several inexpensive, temporary options for both. Check out Rory’s article for fencing and “Watering Systems for Grazing Livestock”

(https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/pm1604-pdf)

Fall and Winter Grazing Strategies

Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Southeast Regional Director

In Ohio it is possible to graze year round. Of course grazing in winter does take planning. Summer is the best time to plan for fall and winter grazing. Why? Because many of our options have tasks associated with them in summer. By planning ahead it is possible in Ohio to have adequate quality, grazable forage for most of the winter. Depending on the class of livestock and their stage of production it is possible to need to feed for weeks in winter as opposed to months.

The cheapest option for fall grazing is crop residue, specifically corn residue. Corn residue can be an excellent grazable feed for about sixty days after the combine leaves the field. Fence and water are usually the biggest challenge to utilizing this feed resource. The variety of temporary fence and water options available can overcome that challenge. Grazing corn residue in fall can also take pressure off of your pasture fields and allow you to stockpile more forage for winter grazing. Check out the Factsheet “Grazing Corn Residue”,for more information.

Stockpiling tall fescue is a relatively inexpensive option and can be done with existing pastures. To start stockpiling, make the last clip or grazing anytime from the end of July through September. Generally, the earlier start the more you will have, but the lower the quality. The opposite is also true: the later you start, the higher the quality, but lower yield. After the last cut/graze add 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre. The addition of the nitrogen will add from 1000-2000 pounds of forage. If you have a large amount of clover, over 40%, then research shows little additional response to N applications for stockpiling.

After applying the nitrogen then delay grazing those fields until November through February. Quality will start to decline after Thanksgiving, but it is a slow decline. Usually the quality of stockpiled tall fescue will be still good enough for a ewe in good condition into February.

Orchardgrass can also be stockpiled. Research conducted at OARDC Jackson Branch showed that orchardgrass will have protein around 12% into February. Orchardgrass will weather rapidly after prolonged cold temperatures, so yields will be reduced the longer you wait to graze.

Brassicas are also options to extend the grazing season. Turnips are the most common brassica used in Ohio. Turnips can be planted from mid July through early August. Most cultivars will reach maximum yield in 90 days. To get a good crop of turnips, you need two pounds of seed and fifty pounds of nitrogen per acre. Either no-till or conventional seeding will work. The hardest part is the low seeding rate and a small seed. Mixing the seed with the fertilizer helps. Tops and bulbs can both be grazed, with the tops being the higher quality feed component. Brassicas are very low in fiber, feed low quality hay to help slow its passage through your livestock. The crop should remain available to livestock until temperatures fall below 15 degrees. Check out the Factsheet “Brassicas for Forage”, for more information.

Winter rye is an option that can produce a high quality crop for grazing in December and March. It is very high in quality and will be the first to green up in the spring. This is a good option for livestock with high nutritional needs. For early spring grazing do not over-graze rye in December. Winter rye can be planted from the middle of August through the middle of September at 90-100 pounds of seed per acre. When rye is 2-4 inches tall, 50-75 pounds of nitrogen will stimulate growth and additional applications in early March will increase production. Check out the Factsheet “Winter Rye for Extending the Grazing Season”, for more information.

Spring oats planted from July through September will grow more feed in the fall than winter rye but won’t have the spring growth. Optimum planting is the first week of August and you can grow an average of 6,000 pounds of dry matter per acre. Plant bin run oats originating in Canada at a rate of 80 to 100 pounds per acre. Fifty pounds of nitrogen will be beneficial. Like stockpiling tall fescue earlier planting will increase yield but quality will be lower than a later planting.

Standing corn can also be a viable option for winter grazing. Yes, in Ohio most people would consider this crazy. The profile of the plant and the fact that a lot of its nutritional quality will be in the grain make it an attractive option. It will be less likely to be ungrazable because of excessive snow and or ice. Of course you will need to get your ewes started on grain before grazing this crop. Research at OARDC has shown an acre of standing corn can feed 20 ewes for 70 days. Check out the Factsheet “Using Corn for Livestock Grazing”, for more information.

For all of these forages the grazing management needs to include strip grazing. Strip grazing or limiting access with temporary fencing will increase utilization of the crop and decrease the amount wasted.