Oct. 20, 2015 08:00 AM

Visits to Pennsylvania, Montana and Kentucky

by Marvin Hall
Extension Forage Agronomist
Penn State University

Corn silage harvest was delayed because dry down was slow. Then moisture levels seemed to drop seemingly overnight, and it was a race to get corn silage made at an acceptable moisture. While corn grain and soybean harvest (some record-setting yields) have been have been in full swing, there has also been a lot of forages being harvested as haylage or balage. A heavy frost over much of the state has now slowed forage harvesting

Forage sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass harvesting has been continuing as farmers try to squeeze as much out of that crop as possible. Managing around areas of frost to minimize the risk of prussic acid poisoning has been a recent hot topic.

by Ray Smith
Extension Forage Specialist
University of Kentucky

by Tom Keene
Extension Hay Specialist
University of Kentucky

Growing temperatures for hay and pasture fields have been good for October, but most areas of the state continue to be below average for rainfall. Therefore, late-fall grass hay yields are below average and in many cases there was not sufficient growth for harvest. Fall pasture production has been below average and yields on stockpiled tall fescue pastures will be limited for this winter. Cattle producers need to make sure they have adequate supplies of stored feed to carry them through until spring green-up.

The majority of Kentucky experienced frost and freezing conditions (30 to 32°F) during the weekend of October 16 to 18. Grazing of sorghum-sudan and sudangrass pastures or those containing Johnsongrass should be delayed until the plant material has dried down to reduce the risk of prussic acid (cyanide) toxicity. Some producers have decided to harvest and wrap warm season annuals for baleage or cut and try to dry the forage down for hay.

Many alfalfa producers have sufficient regrowth for a late-season harvest or grazing even with the below average rainfall. As in other states in the transition zone, we encourage them to wait until a killing freeze (at least four hours below 24 to 25°F) or November 1 before harvesting or grazing.

With quality hay production low going into this winter, a number of producers are planting wheat, triticale or rye for spring silage or haylage production. The ideal last date for planting is October 15 for most of the state, but adequate spring forage growth is possible with plantings up to November 1.

by Emily Glunk
Forage Extension Specialist
Montana State University

A lack of rain in most of the state from the end of the summer into fall has prevented some producers from taking a final cutting. Regrowth has been slower in some parts of the state, with a reported lack of harvested hay in some areas, although some producers are harvesting a third and fourth cutting.

Hay is going to be even more important this winter, especially with the early spring and implications this has had on pasture use over such a dry summer. Some producers are already looking to feed harvested hay much earlier than previous years due to lack of rain and implications on pasture forage. With the expected record-breaking El Niño moving in this year, many are worried about the potential above-average temperatures and lower precipitation for the second winter in a row.

On a bright note, a lot of good-quality forage has been harvested and prices are remaining steady. A lot of lower-quality alfalfa has seen good demand, with higher-quality alfalfa a little slower in the market. Hay, especially grass hay, is priced a little cheaper in surrounding states, which has resulted in rather slow movement of grass hay within the state.