Don’t Let Potash Limit Your Forages

Potassium can be a neglected nutrient in forages, especially hayfields. Potassium is needed for many essential plant processes including stomatal opening and closing (regulates water status of plant), winter hardiness, and resistance to plant disease and stress. Fall is a great time to sample pasture and hayfields and apply needed fertilizer such as potash (K2O).

soil probeSilage crops are heavy users of K2O, and the stover/stems contain ¾ of the potash. If these fields are not amended with additional K2O according to soil test, subsequent forage crops will be K deficient. Repeated removal of hay crops without K2O replacement results in low to very low soil K2O test levels. Hay crops on these soils will have a diminished response to N, and can even appear nitrogen deficient after N fertilization.

A ton of fescue or orchardgrass hay will remove 17 to 19 lbs. of phosphate (P2O5)per ton compared to 53 to 62 lbs. of K2O. Using 20 and 60 for P2O5 and K2O removal respectively, a three ton hay crop will remove 60 lbs. of P2O5 and 180 lbs. of K2O. Replacement of these nutrients using 19-19-19 would require 900 lbs. of product per acre. Commonly used rates of 200 to 300 lbs. of 19-19-19 per acre would undersupply the K2O needed by 120 to 140 lbs. per acre.

To prevent potash from being limited in your hayfields, get a current soil test and then work with your fertilizer dealer to prepare a blended fertilizer that will supply recommended nutrients. Hay fields that are very low in potash will requires high application rates over time. ~ Dr. Jimmy Henning


Register now for AFGC Conference in Louisville

“Forages: Opportunities for the Next Generation” is the theme of the 2018 AFGC annual conference, to be held in Louisville, KY January 14-17. Producer day is Monday, January 15th and will open with a keynote address from Greg Peterson of the Peterson Brothers. Other highlights include practical oral and poster presentations, a trade fair, hay judging contest, National Forage Bowl competition, Forage Spokesperson contest and Emerging Scientist Competition. Click here for the full agenda or to register.

Featured Publication: Cyanide Poisoning in Ruminants

Prussic acid, cyanide, or hydrocyanic acid are all terms relating to the same toxic substance. Hydrogen cyanide was first isolated from a blue dye (Prussian blue) and because of its acidic nature it became known by the common name “prussic acid.” Cyanide is one of the most rapidly acting toxins that affect cattle. Most of us think about cyanide because of it’s release from johnsongrass after frost. Click here for the full publication.

Tell Us about You!

The UK Forage Extension Team has been busy building a new website. This new site will still house our publications and event archives, but will also allow us to better share other media forms such as videos and decision aids. To help us better design this website and all our educational programs , we are asking for your help. If you haven’t yet completed our survey, please do so soon. If you have, thank you for your participation. We are excited to continue to work with producers across the Commonwealth to improve forage management and livestock production.

Please select the survey button below that best describes your situation:



Dual Locations Draw Strong Attendance at 2017 Kentucky Grazing Conference

Nearly 200 farmers, agents and industry participants attended the 2017 Kentucky Grazing Conference on October 17-18. Dual locations (Lexington and Hopkinsville) impacted a wider audience for the conference, hosted by the Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council and the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. A nationally recognized panel of speakers presented on the theme of ‘Pasture Management to Control Weeds and Improve Production’.

The program featured Kathy Voth, nationally recognized for her work with animal grazing behavior on weeds. Other speakers included Scott Flynn -Dow AgroScience; Greg Brann – NRCS (ret.),  Micheal Flessner – Virginia Tech; Chris Teutsch – UK; and Bill Payne – KY farmer and Technical Service Provider. The speakers addressed how producers could develop and integrated approach to pasture management that addressed various weed concerns.

David Burge, Anderson County producer was the winner of the 2017 KFGC Forage Spokesperson Contest. David will represent Kentucky at the American Forage and Grassland Council annual meeting, which is January 14-17, 2018 in Louisville, KY. The full AFGC program is available at

If you missed the Kentucky Grazing Conference, all presentations were recorded and be viewed on the KYForages YouTube channel:

Herbicide Technologies for Pasture Weed Control – Scott Flynn

KFGC Forage Spokesperson Contest – Dave Burge

Mixed Species Grazing as Part of an Integrated Weed Control Program – Greg Brann

Herbicides as Part of an Integrated Weed Control Program – Michael Flessner

Soil Fertility and Grazing Management as Part of an Integrated Weed Control Program – Chris Teutsch

KFGC Forage Spokesperson Contest – Cody Rakes

Perspectives from New Zealand – Bill Payne

Kathy voth speaker photo

Kathy voth leads the Hopkinsville audience through a discussion of grazing beharior on weeds. Kathy is the editor of the enewsletter OnPasture.



Green is Good, Brown is Bad: Evaluating Pastures in the Fall

For producers  with cool season grass pastures, fall (especially after frost) is an excellent time to quickly evaluate the health and productivity of pastures. If green grasses dominate the pasture, it’s likely that most of those are cool season grasses and they are growing with ideal temperatures and rainfall and good soil fertility. Brown pastures at this time are either dominated by warm season grasses, or they are cool season grasses starved of soil fertility or drought stressed. While managers can’t make up for warm temperatures or poor rainfall, we can take steps to determine if pastures are deficient in soil nutrients or overrun by warm season grasses. Your local county extension agent or farm consultant can assist in identifying cool season and warm season grasses, as well as collecting soil samples.

For those who want a more objective measurement of cover, there’s a phone app! Developed at Oklahoma States University, Canopeo is a multipurpose green canopy cover measurement tool. Canopeo allows users to photograph a pasture close up and analyze the photograph for green and brown pixels. Green pixels show as white and are healthy, living material and likely productive, although green weeds will also be counted. Brown pixels are shown as black and represent bare soil, dead or dying material, dormant plants or a closely grazed pasture.  According to the developers, pictures should contain more than 60% green material to graze. Pastures with less should be monitored closely and those with much less green (<40%) should not be grazed. While this app cannot replace a visual inspection by managers, it does provide a more objective measure of pasture health. Canopeo is a free app, available on both iTunes and Google Play.

Late fall (after frost) is a great time to visually evaluate the health and productivity of your cool season grass pastures. With cool season grasses (and legumes) active and warm season grasses dying or going dormant, color is a simple way to observe the overall composition of your pasture. Remember the phrase originally coined by Dr. A.J. Powell, Jr., (former Turf Specialist at the University of Kentucky), “Green is Good, Brown is Bad.” ~ Krista Lea and Tom Keene

Photo:(Left) Cool season grasses and legumes are still active and green in early November. (Right) Canopeo detects nearly 99% green cover in the picture (green is shown as white).



Quote of the Month: “Information is Not Knowledge” ~ Albert Einstein

Information alone cannot accomplish goals. Information is not valuable until transformed into knowledge that can be used to achieve an objective. When new information is combined with experience and previously acquired information, useful and valuable management tools are created. A forage-livestock manager must have the ability to put accurate information into action in order to develop a profitable and sustainable operations. Purchase Forage-Livestock Quotes and Concepts book.quotes book