Forage Road Trip - August 2, 2016

By Hay and Forage Grower

Visits to Texas and Pennsylvania

Vanessa Corriher-Olson
Forage Specialist
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Two words describe Texas lately: hot and dry. Dry conditions and heat have slowed forage growth statewide. Areas with irrigation will be able to alleviate some stress, but high temperatures and wind work against progress. Dry conditions and wind have led to burn bans in several counties across the state with concerns of grass fires. Just this week some fronts moving out of Oklahoma brought some scattered showers for parts of northeast Texas. Southeast Texas had some relief this week as well with moisture moving in from the Gulf. The bermudagrass stem maggot continues to be a pest of concern for many producers across the state.

Jessica Williamson
Extension Forage Specialist
Penn State University

While most of the state has been blessed with some rain this past week, the dry weather has been the focus on most farmers’ minds and in conversations this summer. Portions of Pennsylvania are suffering through the hot months with a mere 1/2 inch of rain over the past six weeks, while other regions have had a bit more. Nonetheless, Pennsylvania is dry. Much of the later-planted corn is tasseling at hip height and drought-stressed, and the impending forage shortage is concerning to farmers across the state and up into the Northeast. The use of emergency forages will likely be greatly used this fall to supplement the shortage of corn silage.

The good quality and yield of first-cutting hay as a whole has been a savior in our state, as the lack of rain has prohibited regrowth of many hayfields. Third- and fourth-cutting alfalfa is being harvested, wheat harvest is winding down, and oat harvest is still in full swing.

This has been a year where proper pasture management in spring could substantially prolong the grazing season through the summer slump. Many operations that do not have summer perennial or annual pasture have been feeding hay for the past several weeks. Poor yields in warm-season annual forages such as sorghum, sorghum x sudan, and millet have been reported across the state in both harvested and grazed forages.