Forage Road Trip – May 17, 2016
|By Hay and Forage Grower|
In the San Joaquin Valley, winter wheat cuttings are still being made for hay and silage. Corn planting got an early start in some areas and planting continues. Alfalfa fields are rounding their third or fourth cuttings.
There was sporadic hail in some isolated parts of the San Joaquin Valley but with no likely damage to corn. Freezing temperatures are over, and weekly highs are hitting the upper 80s and low 90s. In general, growing degree-days for the San Joaquin Valley are 75 percent above normal for this time of year. Precipitation has been slightly above normal and at regular weekly to bi-weekly intervals. Together, these weather conditions have greatly benefited forage growth, although a couple of recent unexpected rainstorms may have complicated some growers’ plans to cut hay. Blue alfalfa aphid has not been reported to be a particular problem so far this year.
This week, tall fescue seedheads have fully emerged throughout the state of Missouri, which is 10 to 14 days ahead of normal years in northern Missouri. The early maturity has made mid-May an ideal time for taking a first cut of fescue hay. Although the first cut would result in average yields, it sets up pastures for a second spring cut within the next four weeks.
Producers who are replacing toxic Kentucky 31 fescue with a novel endophyte are gearing up for the spray-smother-spray program. Their first glyphosate spray will begin in the next few days, and a summer smother, such as pearl millet, will be no-till planted the following week.
A small pocket of counties in the Ozark region has experienced weather conditions favorable for white clover production. As a result, some pastures are overrun with white clover, and producers in those counties are seeing bloat in cattle. Producers are providing bloat guard and dry hay ad lib.
Regarding insect pests, alfalfa weevils have been problematic in the southern part of the state. However, reports of weevil populations have diminished this week, after the first cutting. Other pest reports include aphids.
One pest reemerging this year is the eastern tent caterpillar. This caterpillar is of interest because of its association with MRLS (Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome) in horses. More information can be found here or here.
Spring has quickly given way to summer conditions. Hot and dry conditions dominate most of Georgia, but this has given producers in this area a chance to make hay and baleage off of winter annual forages and to begin on their summer crops. Second-cutting alfalfa has been harvested across Georgia.
Many hay producers in South Georgia will have their first cutting of pure bermudagrass this week. Drying conditions have been quite good with lots of sun, moderate to low humidity, and low rain chances. On the flip side, though, this has drawn virtually all of the surface moisture out of the soil.
The northern one-third of Georgia is in a state of moderate (D1-D2) drought. The ground is so dry and hard in some areas that a no-till drill cannot penetrate the surface. Many summer annual plantings have been pushed back three to four weeks.
Silage corn is generally in great shape. Forage sorghum plantings are progressing, but many acres are being planted to pearl millet or other crops because of the fear of the sugarcane aphid. Control options exist and have improved with the granting of some Section 18 labels for key insecticides, but the economic incentive to grow sorghum is considerably thinner.