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Tight forage supplies force changes for 2013 planting season
May 16, 2013

The difficult forage growing season from 2012 has continued into the  new growing season as producers scramble to find adequate forage  supplies for their livestock. Michigan State University Extension educators have been scouting alfalfa fields in both the Lower and Upper  Peninsula for winterkill and reports are that most fields are doing  pretty well compared to areas in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ontario that  are reporting approximately 50 percent winterkill. Many graziers in  Michigan were hoping for a normal growing season to take the pressure  off winter forage supplies. Unfortunately, the weather in Michigan has  been cooler and wetter than normal, adding to the stress of last year  and delaying the vigorous growth phase for most pastures by several  weeks.

Local forage supplies are lower than normal and are being squeezed by  very low supplies of forages nationwide that will probably heighten  both demand and prices in the coming weeks and months. To help  supplement the lack of forage inventories, MSU Extension is recommending producers consider the use of annual forages to be  planted in the coming weeks. Desirable characteristics, such as rapid  growth, excellent drought resistance and good response to fertilizer and  water, make summer annual grasses an attractive choice to use in an  overall management scheme for forage production.

Summer annual grasses are used for pasture, green chop, hay and  silage. Many times these annual grasses are used as emergency forage.  The most common annual grasses used in Michigan are sudangrass, hybrid  sudangrass, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and forage sorghum available as  normal or brown midrib varieties. Other summer annual forage grasses  include teff grass, pearl millet, Siberian foxtail millet, German  foxtail millet and Japanese foxtail millet.

Several seed companies were contacted in regards to availability of  annual forage seed. They indicated that seed inventories of some forage  seeds are either unavailable or may be sold out within the next 30 days  due to unusually high demand or low supplies. Producers are encouraged to not wait to order their annual forage seed and should check with their local supplier for availability and variety characteristics.

Source: Dairy Herd Network





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