Dealing with High Fertilizer Costs in Forages

Fertilizer is and has always been a significant production expense whether you are growing corn, cotton, or pasture forage. Fertilizer costs have increased tremendously over the last few decades. Commercial fertilizers are the most costly input in warm season grass forage production. Below are some important issues relative to fertilizer efficiency as well as alternatives for reducing fertilizer use and reducing production costs for forage production. Soil Test: Adequate soil fertility is one key to successful forage and livestock production in Texas. Soil testing is still the best… Read More →

Hay Testing…Know What You’re Feeding

One of the first considerations when purchasing hay is that it should be based on individual animal requirements. For optimal production, forage quality should be matched as closely as possible to the nutritional needs of the animal. Low quality forage can result in reduced animal performance and increased supplemental feeding costs. Whereas hay of sufficient quality, little or no supplementation will be necessary to meet the animals’ nutritional needs. Keep in mind that not all forage or hay is created equal. There is great variation between forages and… Read More →

Planting Winter Forages

Late September-early October is the ideal time for planting cool season annual forages such as annual ryegrass, small grains (rye, wheat or oats) and/or cool season annual legumes. Anytime we are incorporating new forages into our production systems it is important to make sure to match the forage species to your location (soil type, average annual rainfall, intended use, etc). If you have questions about forages appropriate for your area contact your local county extension agent. Three methods for establishing cool-season annual grasses include planting into a prepared… Read More →

Fall-Planted Forage Mixtures for White-Tailed Deer in Texas

The options for fall-planted wildlife mixtures are many but often the random mixtures offered for sale by national retailers are not the best-adapted plants for Texas.  Warm season forage legumes, cool season forage legumes and forage oats are all great choices to include in forage mixtures for white-tailed deer in Texas.  One problem with planting mixtures of these three forages is determining the correct planting rate for each forage species so that competition is minimized and each species can be productive.   Planting rate experiments with cowpeas, oats… Read More →

Stockpiling Bermudagrass or Bahiagrass

A different winter feeding approach, other than hay, could be the use of standing or stockpiled warm season perennials (such as bermudagrass or bahiagrass). These forages are allowed to accumulate in the field for grazing during fall and early winter. Stockpiled bermudagrass can provide the required nutrition for dry, pregnant cows through January if the appropriate procedure is followed. Producers should plan on providing approximately 45 to 60 days of grazing with the dormant bermudagrass. In most instances, stockpiled bermudagrass should be used up by January. Once the… Read More →

Weed of the Week: Dallisgrass

Dallisgrass is a warm-season perennial that has grazing potential. Dallisgrass is palatable and has a higher level of nutritive value than bahiagrass and some bermudagrass varieties, and it can retain its nutritive value later into the summer. Dallisgrass, however, produces a lower dry matter yield than some bermudagrass varieties. One concern with dallisgrass is the potential for an “ergot” fungus (Claviceps spp.) to infect seedheads and cause dallisgrass poisoning (also known as dallisgrass staggers). The fungus infects the seedheads typically in late summer or fall. The affected animals… Read More →

Herbicide Applications During Dry, Hot Months

Invasive brush can decrease forage productivity for livestock or decrease brush diversity valuable for wildlife habitat.  Most ranchers find themselves constantly considering options for brush management, weighing not only the cost and effectiveness, but also when they can find the time to complete the treatments.   As temperatures continue to climb across the state and the chances of rainfall seem to be weakening, it’s important to consider the effect this will have on any herbicide applications. Treating weeds or brush with a leaf spray application when temperatures are as… Read More →

Fall Armyworms

When rain comes back to Central & East Texas, fall army worm infestations may develop (or already have) in pastures and hayfields. Below is information on management of fall armyworm in pastures and hay and a list of labeled insecticides (click on “Armyworm Fact Sheet 2019”). As always remember to read the label of all pesticides before use! Armyworm Fact Sheet 2019                       Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson Forage Extension Specialist Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Overton, TX vacorriher@ag.tamu.edu

What is Coastal, Tifton 85 and Jiggs?

Most people think these forages are a species of their own. But they are not. They are hybrid varieties of Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon). Bermudagrass is a warm-season perennial grass that spreads mainly by rhizomes (underground stems) and stolons (horizontal aboveground stems).  The grass tolerates a wide range of soil types and soil pH values, thus making it adapted to most of the southern US.  ‘Coastal’: A hybrid between ‘Tift’ bermudagrass, a vigorous growing bermudagrass found in an old field near Tifton, Georgia, and an introduction from South Africa. … Read More →

Weed of the Week: Bahiagrass

Weed of the Week: Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) Bahiagrass is a warm season perennial that grows in Texas. Bahiagrass spreads by J-shaped purplish rhizomes and seed. The seed head consists of two or three spikes. Bahiagrass can be very aggressive and take over quickly especially in areas where competition is weak. Bahiagrass is very tolerant of low fertility and soil acidity.   Bahiagrass can be utilized for grazing. Some of it’s attractions for producers include its excellent adaptation, ease of management, persistence under low fertilization and close grazing. Bahiagrass… Read More →