Patience in Prairie Modeled Pasture

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

(Image Source: Dr. Jean-Marie Luginbuhl – North Carolina State University)

If I were to make a playlist for establishing native warm-season pastures, these songs would be on it:

  • “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses
  • “No Rush” by Josh Turner
  • “Fools Rush In” by Elvis Presley
  • “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes
  • “I’m in a Hurry” by Alabama

Yes, patience is the theme of the playlist and patience is a virtue when establishing pastures that mimic native prairie ecosystems. The benefits of establishing a native warm-season grass stand come hand in hand with the challenges. The greatest of these challenges is simply being patient for the seed to germinate and the plants to grow. A common cause of seeding failures is the land manager’s anxiety and in inclination to change courses in the first few years after seeding a prairie mix.

The expected wait time for a native warm-season grass stand to reach the state considered “fully established” is Continue reading

Forage Fertility: Where We Are and Why it Matters

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension
Greg LaBarge, Agronomic Crops Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Hay and haylage crops are grown on just over 1 million acres in Ohio (NASS, 2019) and are grown on more Ohio farms (44% of all farms) than any other crop (Becot et al., 2020). In addition, there are over 1.3 million acres of pastureland on nearly 39,000 farms (50% of all farms) in the state of Ohio (NASS, 2017). Fertilizer costs represent 40% – 60% of the variable input costs of forage hay production (Ward et al., 2016, 2018), and so managing these costs is key to an Ohio forage producers’ ability to stay competitive. Furthermore, water quality issues in the state underscore the need for Ohio farmers to manage on-farm nutrients as efficiently as possible. A farmer’s ability to find this optimal balance between meeting crop nutrient requirements without over-application is highly reliant on the best available information.

In order to make better and up to date forage fertility recommendations, we want to hear back from producers as to what Continue reading

It’s Time for Summer Annuals to Shine

Amber Friedrichsen, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 29, 2021)

With the first day of summer in the rearview mirror, temperatures are only expected to accelerate. Forage production, on the other hand, will likely slow down. This is when summer annuals can take the wheel and keep forage production on track for the remainder of the season.

Sorghum-sudangrass and pearl millet are among the most popular summer annuals. Proper management of these grasses begins with planting in the spring. When soil temperatures reach 65°F, seeds can either be broadcast or drilled 2 inches deep.

Although these forages can be cut for hay, Charlotte Meeks with University of Georgia Extension states the best way to harvest summer annuals is to Continue reading

When is the Right Time to Re-seed your Hayfield?

Anthony S. Lerch, District Technician/Educator, Stark Soil and Water Conservation District
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: June 10, 2021)

Have you noticed that your hay yields are lower than years before? Are you not getting the number of bales that you have in years past? Or maybe your hay stand does not look as strong compared to previous years?

It may be time to re-seed or overseed your hay fields. When is it the right time to re-seed your hayfield? Is it in the spring? A fall seeding maybe? There is always frost seeding in the late winter. The truth is, it all depends on your soil conditions and how you choose to manage your fields.

Overseeding
There is no one size fits all answer to overseeding your fields. During the early spring, it is crucial to get your soil pH and Continue reading

Fertilizing Hay and Pastures

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
Greg LaBarge, OSU Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems Department of Extension
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter 16-2021)

Many hay producers across the state have completed or are in the process of completing their first cutting of the year. One of the two best times to top-dress maintenance fertilizer on hay is right after the first cutting. The other top choice is in the early fall. Remember that hay crops will remove about 50 lbs. of K2O and 12 lbs. of P2O5 per ton of dry hay harvested.

Fertilizer can be top-dressed on hay or pastures at any time during the growing season, but right after the first cutting and early fall provide times when the soils are usually firm enough to Continue reading

Hay Barn Fires are a Real Hazard

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Crawford County
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter 15-2021)

(Image Source: Alabama Cooperative Extension System)

Hay fires are caused when bacteria in wet hay create so much heat that the hay spontaneously combusts in the presence of oxygen. At over 20% moisture mesophilic bacteria release heat-causing temperature to rise between 130°F – 140ºF with temperature staying high for up to 40 days. As temperatures rise, thermophilic bacteria can take off in your hay and raise temperature into the fire danger zone of over 175°F.

Assessing Your Risk
If hay was baled between 15% – 20% moisture and acid preservatives were used, there is still potential for a hay fire but not as great as on non-treated hay. A moisture tester on your baler can help you know how moisture varies across your field and when to use hay preservative. Without a moisture tester, if you occasionally find darker green damp spots or humidity is high, be sure to monitor for heating. Most propionic acid-based products are Continue reading

Perennial Weeds can Indicate Soil Health Problems in Pastures

Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Licking County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: May 6, 2021)

If plants could talk, we could learn a lot, and our jobs as stewards of the land would be much easier. When we go to the doctor because we are sick, we do not sit quietly and expect the doctor to know how we feel and then tell us how to get better. We need to provide information that will help with the diagnosis.

But since plants cannot talk, our job is difficult when we try to locate the source of a problem, such as low productivity or an infestation of weeds.

Recently, one of my colleagues, Ed Brown, suggested a method of taking stock of what is growing in your pasture. Knowing what plants are growing in your pastures is an important first step in listening to what the pasture is telling you. Varieties of plants or changes in these populations from year to year can provide important clues. Continue reading

Make Your Best Hay

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: May 11, 2021)

There’s never been a haymaker who couldn’t improve on their craft. The opportunities to enhance forage yield, quality, and persistence are nearly endless. Whether you’ve already started cutting or are still waiting, Amanda Grev offers this bevy of suggestions in the University of Maryland’s Agronomy News to improve this year’s hay quality ledger.

Harvest at the correct maturity stage
“The single most important factor affecting forage quality is the stage of maturity at the time of harvest,” notes the extension pasture and forage specialist. “This is especially true in the spring when forages are growing and maturing rapidly.”

Target the onset of cutting at the boot stage for grasses or late bud to early bloom for legumes. For legume-grass mixtures, base your cut-time decision on

Continue reading