Overall, the recent cold weather and ice storms have affected people more than forages, says John Caddel, Oklahoma State University forage agronomist. "The ice storms caused electrical outages because trees fell on power lines, but the moisture was welcome, particularly for pastures in the western part of Oklahoma," he reports. "Most forage was not seriously harmed by the ice and snow. Newly planted alfalfa and wheat for grazing should have been planted in September and large enough to avoid damage from the low temperatures." Some cattle producers needed to take care of baby calves born in the late fall, and ponds were frozen, limiting watering for many herds.
"We are frequently asked to report damage from various weather events quickly, and most of the early reports do not turn out particularly accurate," Caddel states. "The cold weather experienced by most of Oklahoma was unusual, but not unheard-of. In a couple of weeks we may realize that the ice and snow had some detrimental effects on forages, but it is too soon to see damages other than downed fences, telephone lines and power lines."
After a summer of incessant rains, the fall in most of Oklahoma was dry, and some western areas of the state had become too dry for good fall forage production. With the high price of wheat for grain, producers are less interested than usual in grazing wheat, Caddel notes.
Contact Caddel at 405-744-9643.
Hay quality was good, but quantity was down in northern Utah this year, reports Clark Israelsen, Cache County extension agent. "I am getting several calls each day from people looking for hay, and hay is getting hard to find," he says. "We had frost in late May. Then a summer drought decreased quantity. Quality was good because very little hay got rained on this year." Cache County has a combination of irrigated and dryland hay. Most dryland hay growers who would normally get two cuttings were only able to make one cutting due to the lack of moisture. Their first cutting was reduced due to damage from the late freeze. Alfalfa weevils were a problem, too. "Most people got the first cutting off and then sprayed to control weevils in the second cutting," he states.
The hay shortage means the county's 100 dairies are feeding a higher percentage of corn silage in rations. "We had a good corn crop this year, so we have good corn silage supplies," says Israelson. "The temperature was high and irrigation water was available, so some producers were able to make 30 tons/acre." Beef producers had been grazing until recently, but are now mixing straw with hay to help extend hay supplies. Some are selling cattle, he says.
Hay production is expected to decrease somewhat in northern Utah next year. Israelsen says wheat is so valuable in Cache County that acreage that would typically be planted to alfalfa has been planted to winter wheat or will be planted to white wheat in spring. The injunction against planting Roundup Ready alfalfa has also caused a pause in planting plans. "People around our area who had planted Roundup Ready alfalfa were really happy with it," says Israelsen. "Some producers are still thinking we will be able to buy RR alfalfa again, hopefully fairly soon. So people who will be putting in a new seeding of alfalfa are waiting for at least another year to see if Roundup Ready is going to be available."
Israelsen wishes eHay Weekly readers a Merry Christmas. Contact him at 435-752-6263.