Oregon Forage Seed Production Tour

Eastern Oregon produces over 90% of the cool season grass seed used in the U.S. and a substantial amount of worldwide production. The Oregon Grass and Clover Commissions hosted a group of forage and cover crop specialists from the eastern U.S. on a 3 day tour May 22-24. The group saw forage seed fields of tall fescue, orchardgrass, annual and perennial ryegrass, white clover, red clover, crimson clover, and balansa clover.  We also saw unique crops including turnip, radish, mustard, forage chicory, and even a high value crop called meadowfoam that is used for cosmetics. We learned that Oregon growers are highly specialized with tremendous attention to detail. This results in high quality seed with minimal weed contaminants. The price we pay for quality forage seed in the east is a good value when you realize all that goes into producing a high quality seed crop. We also learned that the recent increases in orchardgrass seed price is because of significant production issues in Oregon including a new hard to control disease called choke.  ~ Ray Smith


Quote of the Month: Saving Leaves Saves Money

When forage is harvested mechanically, it is critically important to minimize leaf loss. Leaves, especially those of legume plants, may shatter if moisture content is too low or if harvesting equipment is not properly adjusted or properly operated. Losing lequotes bookaves hurts forage yield, but more importantly it dramatically lowers forage quality because leaves are the most digestible portion of forage plants. Purchase Forage-Livestock Quotes and Concepts books for $5 each by contacting us at ukforageextension@uky.edu.

Featured Publication: 2016 Annual Grass Report: Warm Season and Cool Season (Cereals) (PR-719)

Summer annual grasses provide an important forage crop option for producers in Kentucky. These grasses can be used as emergency or supplemental hay and pasture crops, but also provide high yielding, high quality forage for annual plantings. The purpose of this publication is to summarize the UK 2013 – 2016 Forage Yield Trials with sudangrass, sorghum/sudangrass, forage sorghum, pearl millet, and teff.  There is additional information on the production potential of cereals for fall and spring plantings. The tables at the end provide a summary of variety performance over the last 9 years. For this and all variety reports go to the UK Forage Extension website, http://www.uky.edu/ag/forage, and look under “Forage Variety Trials.”


Alfalfa Weevil Damage – The Next Step

Alfalfa weevils were very damaging in some fields this year (Figure 1). While individual larvae only feed for about 3 weeks, a wide window for egg hatch this year resulted in an extended season. Unfortunately, some additional damage occurred when larvae pupated and adults emerged. If your stand was weakened by weevils this spring before spraying or before your first cutting, then a delayed second cutting will help rebuild root carbohydrates to maintain a healthy stand. The same is true if you experienced significant frost damage this spring. ~Dr. Lee Townsend via Kentucky Pest News


Figure 1. Undamaged weeds are the only green foliage in this alfalfa field following major weevil feeding (M. Baxter).



AFGC Western Hay Tour

We have almost finalized plans for the western hay production education trip August 23-29 for producers and county agents. The full schedule will be on the UK Forage Website the first week of May and the  registration details will be posted on the AFGC website by mid-May. Go ahead and mark your calendar and then be ready to register later this month since participation will be on a first-come first-served basis.


Quote of the Month: “It is cut when it is just beginning to flower, and this is repeated as often as it throws out new blossoms” ~ Pliny the Elder

Alfalfa is thought to be the only forage crop cultivated before the development of written languages. Even in the early days of managing alfalfa, it was known that harvesting at an early bloom growth stage would optimize dry matter yield, forage quality and rapid and vigorous regrowth of the plant, a concept that applies to other forage crops as well. Today, harvests may be made at an even earlier growth stage when quality and intake potential are higher in order to meet the nutritional demands of high producing animals. However, such early harvests may occur before carbohydrates, depleted by plant regrowth, are optimally restored, so additional management care is required to ensure plant survival and stand longevity. Purchase Forage-Livestock Quotes and Concepts books for $5 each by contacting ukforageextension@uky.edu.