Weeks of extreme heat and dry weather have really reduced forage production in our area. No doubt, farmers are considering winter grazing this fall in an effort to supplement short hay supply. However, we still need rain because the ground is too hard and dry for overseeding in many areas of the county.
I would like to remind area farmers that our local RC&D provides no-till drilling at a reasonable rate. Farmers can rent the drill for $8 per acre, the drill and tractor for $9 per acre plus fuel or get a turn key job of drill, tractor and operator for $14 per acre. The operator will require a moving fee for small acreages depending on the number of miles to the planting location.
Using the RC&D drill is certainly a feasible alternative for those who don't have their own equipment. Robert Thomas is the local operator. He can be reached at 706-836-1252.
The advantage of the no-till drill is that it can be used to plant directly into the sod of existing pastures. Using a standard drill or just slinging seed out over the sod stands a much better chance of failing than using the no-till drill. Good seed to soil contact is essential for proper germination. Also, once the seed germinates, it often will not survive if it was not placed at the proper depth.
Rye is the most widely planted small grain crop for grazing and cover crop purposes. Rye matures earlier in spring than the other small grains and is well suited for use as a cover crop on land that will be planted in the spring. Purchasing certified seed assures one of seed quality. Even with higher seed prices, certified seed are worth the investment.
Those wanting to carry the winter grazing longer into the spring will plant a mixture of rye and ryegrass. Ryegrass will remain green and actively growing several weeks longer into the spring than rye.
Adding clover to the mix can increase quality. However, most farmers aren't willing to devote the management time it takes to properly balance the growth between the clover and grass. Too much nitrogen and the grass shades out the clover. Not enough nitrogen and the yield is low.
It's easier to just shoot the nitrogen to it and grow grass.