OSU launches calendar for planting warm-season forages

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cattle on pasture
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

In late May, as spring transitions and temperatures rise, farmers across the region are met with a mix of hope and challenges. The early warm weather has kick-started growth in cool-season forages, signaling a productive start to the season. However, the optimism is tempered by difficulties encountered during hay production.

Uncooperative weather conditions have plagued many farmers, resulting in diminished hay quality. As the forages matured and went to seed, the window for optimal haymaking conditions quickly closed.

Some attempted to salvage the situation by baling wet hay, hoping to hedge their bets against the unpredictable weather. Yet, this strategy comes with its own risks, including the potential for mold and wet hay that could overheat in storage.

Amid these challenges, there are pockets of relief. In certain areas, including “my neck of the woods,” the weather has been more favorable, offering many more dry days than wet. This has facilitated hay production, providing a silver lining despite the broader weather woes.

Warm-season forages

As attention shifts to planting warm-season forages, farmers face critical decisions regarding forage selection and timing. The window has already closed for native grasses like big bluestem, Indiangrass and switchgrass.

Similarly, the opportunity to plant brassicas such as rapeseed, kale, swede and turnips is quickly narrowing, with the deadline fast approaching in the first week of June.

For farmers seeking viable options for planting in the coming weeks, sorghum, sudangrass, sorghum/sudan hybrids and millet emerge as favorable choices. These warm-season forages offer resilience and productivity within the current planting window, extending through mid-July.

Despite the potential benefits of timely planting, navigating the intricacies of planting dates and seeding rates can be daunting. Compounding the challenge is the issue of seed availability, with many dealers already experiencing stock shortages.

Pasture planting calendar

In response to these complexities, a collaborative effort has yielded a forage and pasture planting calendar. Developed with information from the Ohio Agronomy Guide, this one-page resource provides farmers with essential information on planting schedules and seeding rates. By consolidating key data into a user-friendly format, the calendar serves as a valuable tool in the planning process, empowering farmers to make informed decisions.

Originally tailored for Zone 6, the calendar’s adaptability extends its utility to surrounding zones, offering practical guidance to farmers throughout the region. Its efficacy has garnered widespread recognition within the farming community, as farmers across the state acknowledging its value in navigating the nuances of planting seasons with confidence.

For those eager to access this invaluable resource, the calendar is available for download free of charge from the provided website, go.osu.edu/forage-calendar. In the coming months, this will be available as an Ohio State University publication.

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