OREGON COUNTY -- Drought conditions in Oregon County have prompted University of Missouri Extension ag business specialist Stacy Hambelton to give some pointers that may be helpful to forage and livestock producers in the county. He said in a recent interview that hay yield in the area is 1/2 of normal or less.
"Some have had rain and some have not. Pastures look dead after weeks without rain," Hambelton said.
He said farmers may actually be in better shape than they think. "Fescue and orchard grass normally goes dormant in late July and August. It is likely the roots are still alive," he said.
According to Rob Kallenbach, MU Extension specialist, "With fall rain, the grass should come back. It might be weak, but it can survive. Wait until mid-September before deciding the grass is dead," Kallenbach said.
"Lots of people are thinking it may never rain again. After the rains starts, pasture grass grown this fall can help reduce the demand for drought-shortened hay supplies," Hambelton said. "The university has been researching this for a number of years. Wet year or dry year, it pays to put nitrogen on pastures now. With nitrogen being in the neighborhood of 45 cents/pound, it takes nerve to put in on dry ground. We usually talk about 40 pounds per acre producing 1/2 to 1 ton extra per acre. That is $18 to $36 per ton cost to produce extra forage. That is a lot cheaper than $60-$100/ton hay costs. It may be worth considering," he said.
Hambelton said there are six things livestock producers should consider that could help drought effected pastures.
Apply nitrogen now. Do not wait until after it rains; it will be too late then to get maximum growth.
Fertilize one to two acres per cow.
Keep the cows off and give it time to grow after it rains.
Stripe graze (allot enough for 1-2 days grazing before moving to a new area; it will give better utilization.
Select fields that have a good stand of fescue.
If nitrogen is not used this fall, it can be used next spring.
Nitrogen on pastures is very stable and will stay in place.
Hambelton can be contacted at 417-778-7490.