Late May Ideal for Evaluating Hay and Forage

Late May Ideal for Evaluating Hay and Forage

In addition to enjoying community activities this Memorial Day weekend, consider using it as a benchmark for examining the status of hay and forage programs for the year and making adjustments where necessary.

Many hay and forage jobs should have been completed, or at least started, by Memorial Day. For example, all perennial grasses or legumes should be planted by now.  If you still have areas to plant—wait until August.

Spraying for musk thistle also should be done by Memorial Day.  Plants that have already started to grow tall usually won't be killed by spraying. Digging may be your best option now.

Warm-season grasses should have been fertilized with nitrogen by Memorial Day or very soon afterward.

Alfalfa being used for high quality hay should have been cut. Later cutting might give hay that’s good enough for many livestock, but there is little chance of getting dairy quality hay any more this cutting.  Start planning now for any possible shortages.

Memorial Day also marks the start of the planting season for summer annual grasses such as sudans and forage sorghums. Millets, though, should be planted in a couple weeks.

This is also a good time to estimate whether your pastures will have enough moisture to produce the growth needed by your livestock this year.  If drought has reduced plant growth, adjust animal numbers now before it's too late.  Summer rains are not likely to allow you to catch up completely. If growth is abundant, you may be able to cut some for hay or stockpile it for winter grazing.

Follow through with this Memorial Day evaluation and many hay and forage problems will be solved, or at least foreseen.


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