Saturday, September 1, 2012

Time to Plant Cool-season Forages in Alabama

This is time to plant cool-season forages. Productive winter pastures are essential to minimize the requirements for purchased feeds (hay, commercial feeds, concentrates, etc.). Following are few tips to initiate developing winter pastures. Interested producers must have completed steps 1-5 by now. Now this is time to implement Step 6.

1. Do the soil test.

2. Control weeds.

3. Apply lime based on soil test recommendations. Generally, lime has to be applied 3-6 months prior to scheduled planting so that soil pH is adjusted by the time of planting.

4. Select forage species based on pasture soil, climatic condition of the location, and livestock species.

5. Procure selected quality forage seed from the trusted source and fertilizers based on soil test recommendations.

6. Plant selected forages on time. Most of the winter forages are planted in September or early October. Apply phosphorus and potassium fertilizer (as recommended) at the time of planting. Nitrogen fertilizer is needed only for non-leguminous crops (grasses). It should be applied in divided doses since it is the least stable fertilizer. Plants need nitrogen for photosynthesis and green leafy growth. So, its application is effective when grasses (not mixed with legumes) are in active vegetative growth (at the beginning and after each harvest).

7. Follow an appropriate grazing management once the planted forages are well established.   If you need help on which forages to plant this season, please contact your local county agents, forage specialists, or livestock specialists. Here are few examples of cool-season grasses: annual ryegrass, tall fescue (MaxQ tall fescue does not have toxic endophyte), orchard grass, small grains (wheat, oats, barley, triticale); cool-season legumes: white clover, crimsom clover, red clover, arrowleaf clover, berseen clover, hairy vetch, common vetch, bigflower vetch, winter peas, alfalfa, and birdsfoot trefoil. All legumes must be inoculated with specific inoculant just before planting while planting them in the new fields.   PLEASE POST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE: whether it was useful to you or more information is needed. Specify what more information is needed if you post comments that 'more information is needed'.

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