The Role of Sulfur in Pastures and Forages

Dan Lima, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Belmont County

Sulfur is an element found in two out of the 20 protein-forming amino acids in plants. It is also essential for chlorophyll production, the most important pigment in the plant kingdom.

Additionally, a higher amount of sulfur is needed in legumes for nitrogen fixation. Legumes are thought to be the most sensitive plants to sulfur deficiency due to the fact it will slow down all three essential functions in this category.

For these reasons, plants, and all life for that matter, need sulfur to survive. It is considered a secondary macro-nutrient because of its essential requirement at lower levels than the other macro-nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Plant symptoms of sulfur deficiency are young leaves with light green veins and interveinal areas. Younger leaves due to protein synthesis and light green due to decreased chlorophyll content. Continue reading

February is for Frost Seeding

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

February is here and it comes with a flood of hearts, flowers, chocolates, and romance. It also brings weather that triggers maple syrup season and the ideal conditions for frost seeding pastures. If your valentine is a pasture manager, I have the perfect gift idea ahead!

Say “I love you” with the gift of clover seed! Instead of a bouquet of roses, consider a bag of red clover. Instead of fancy wine, consider an improved variety of white clover. Maybe just go ahead and get all of the above though, just to be safe.

Not convinced yet? Let me explain why February is a fantastic time to share the love of legumes.

The ideal time for frost seeding tends to be Continue reading

Making the Most of Your Fall Grazing

Dr. Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension ANR Educator, Perry County

Depending on what part of the state or country you live in, this year has been another challenge with pastures and forages. Hay yields are all over the board as far as quantity and to date I am surprised of the few results that I have seen the quality. Many in my area were able to get first cutting of in great time this spring, but the quality has been surprisingly lower than expected. So as many finish up hay making, now is a good time to take inventory of what you have and take forage samples to determine what nutrient values are in the crop.

If you find yourself with low forages going into fall, some options may include Continue reading

Forage Challenges as the Weather Turns Cooler to Keep Livestock Safe

Kyle Verhoff, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Defiance County
Jason Hartschuh, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Field Specialist

(Image Source: SA Mohair Growers Association)

As the year begins to wrap up and temperatures drop, there are countless things to consider including how the coming frosts impact the toxicity of our forages. This past week many portions of the state began to flirt with possible overnight frosts which raises concerns of prussic acid poisoning, nitrate poisoning, and increased bloat as a result of feeding certain fall forages.

What is prussic acid toxicity?
Prussic acid toxicity is the accumulation of prussic acid (i.e., hydrogen cyanide) in forage plant tissue. Prussic acid is the product of a reaction between two naturally occurring plant molecules, cyanogenic glycosides and degrading enzymes. Plant cell walls usually separate the two, but a frost event freezes the water in a plant cell, rupturing the cell wall and allowing the formation of prussic acid.

What variables contribute to prussic acid toxicity?
Forage Species
The forage species that are the main concern when it comes to prussic acid toxicity are Continue reading

A Hay Test is Worth Every Penny

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

As hay making season ends and hay feeding season approaches, it is time to remind everyone that feeds hay how important getting a hay test completed is for deciding how to feed your livestock this winter. A hay test will cost you far less than the cost of a single round bale. The results you get back will give you the information you need to decide what type of feed and how much you will need to purchase to keep your animals productive until good pasture is available to graze again.

If you have never done a hay test before, Extension is here to help you. We have tools you can borrow and personnel to help with consultation. Here are the steps of how to take a hay test.

  1. Subsamples can be collected with a Hay Probe and a clean bucket or with your hands and large scissors.
  2. Select 10 random bales from the same field and cutting.
  3. Drill/Reach into the center of the bale, from the wrapped side, not the exposed side, and remove a probeful/handful of hay.
  4. Hold over the bucket and empty/cut 4-6 inch long pieces.
  5. Repeat the above until you have subsampled all 10 bales.
  6. With your hands, gently mix up the pieces in the bucket.
  7. Fill a quart plastic bag with your composite sample.
  8. Press out all the air and seal the bag.
  9. Label the sample bag with your name and sample ID.
  10. Complete the Sample Information Form for the lab you wish to use.
  11. Return the Hay sample(s) along with the Sample Information Form.
  12. Go over the results of your hay test with a professional familiar with how to feed your class of livestock.

When you Continue reading

Make Most of Your Fall Grazing

Dr. Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Perry County
(Previously published online in Farm Progress – Ohio Farmer: September 22, 2023)

Take forage samples to determine what nutrient values are in the crop.

Depending on what part of the state or country you live in, this year has been another challenge with pastures and forages. Hay yields are all over the board as far as quantity.

Many in my area were able to get the first cutting off in great time this spring, but the quality has been surprisingly lower than expected. So as many finish up haymaking, now is a good time to take inventory of what you have and take forage samples to determine what nutrient values are in the crop.

If you find yourself with low forages going into fall, some options may include using land Continue reading

Fall Grazing Dos and Don’ts

Amber Friedrichsen, Associate Editor, Hay and Forage Grower
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: September 19, 2023)

Although the first day of fall is fast approaching, many regions of the United States are still experiencing the aftermath from an exceptionally dry start to the summer. Even as milder temperatures bring cool-season forages out of their drought-induced dormancy, producers must continue to be mindful about grazing management.

In a recent article from the University of Minnesota, Craig Shaeffer, extension forage specialist, and a team of extension educators remind producers to avoid overgrazing, reduce stocking rates, give pastures adequate rest, and control weeds this fall. Doing so will protect drought-stressed forage from further damage and maintain animal performance.

Avoid overgrazing. Some species can tolerate more defoliation than others, but in general, plants must not be grazed lower than 4 inches. This is typically advised at any time of year, but it is especially critical following Continue reading

What’s so Critical about Fall Cutting?

Amber Friedrichsen, Associate Editor, Hay and Forage Grower
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: August 29, 2023)

The critical fall period for alfalfa has been said to start about six weeks before the first killing frost, which is roughly around the first week of September for most of the Midwest. This hard stop in harvest schedules is supposed to ensure plants store enough energy in their roots to survive the winter, but with improved alfalfa varieties, variable stand conditions, and warmer weather patterns, how critical can this period really be?

Despite heat indices recently reaching the triple digits in some parts of the Central U.S., temperatures will likely calm down as we flip the calendar from August to September. The sun is also setting noticeably earlier each day, and the combination of milder temperatures and shorter day lengths sends a signal to alfalfa to prepare for fall dormancy.

Alfalfa will begin Continue reading

Don’t Bet on Wet Hay

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower Managing Editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: August 8, 2023)

It seems drought has dominated the agricultural news feed for several years. Extended dry weather can dramatically reduce hay yields, but wet weather or simply baling hay that is too high in moisture can destroy a hay crop.

In a recent University of Nebraska BeefWatch newsletter, Extension Educators Hannah Smith, Ben Beckman, and Connor Biehler outlined some of the concerns and remedies for hay that is too high in moisture.

Top on the list of concerns is hay combustion. When hay is baled above 20% moisture, microbes begin to break down plant tissue, and mold starts to form. This same biological activity creates heat and the possibility of combustion.

“Bale combustion can begin at Continue reading