Farm Talk

Area Farm & Ranch News

April 23, 2013

Wet spring is good news for forage

Parsons, Kansas — Ask Robert Seay, Benton County staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, what a wet spring means for agriculture in the state and he'll turn to one of the newspaper clippings he keeps taped to his file cabinet.

The 2004 “Arkansas Democrat-Gazette” story reported that 7.25 inches of rain fell on Fayetteville's Drake Field in June of that year, and Seay points to a favorite quote he calls "a classic Ozark truism."

"The rain would be good for more farmers than it would be bad," Johnny Gunsaulis, Washington County Extension agent for the Division of Agriculture, told the newspaper. "Farmers never root against mud this time of year because it's gonna get dry!"

Indeed, the state-by-state drought monitor website at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is already showing that portions of north central, northwest, south central, and southwest Arkansas are trending toward abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions. So a rainy start for 2013 is not being taken for granted by the state's farmers and Extension agents, especially after the painful drought of 2012.

Conditions improving

According to the Cooperative Extension Service's recent Crop Progress and Condition report, 43 percent of pasture and range was in good or excellent condition. Non-alfalfa hay was 42 percent good or excellent and 47 percent fair.

"We finally do have our ponds full again," said Jesse Bocksnick, county Extension agent for Sebastian County. "We are muddy right now, but you can tell how bad it has been in the past due to the lack of complaining or griping by producers about the rain. Everyone is afraid to jinx the moisture and are praying that we continue to get this in June, July, and August."

The hay for the first cutting is shaping up nicely, he said, and growers are expecting to get some good production.

"The cool season grasses like rye grass have exploded with growth the last week putting on several inches of leaf which greatly increase the amount of usable forage," said Bocksnick. "We have had producers getting stuck in pastures with no complaints. When the sun is out and the wind is blowing though it seems to dry out very quickly."

But the recent lower-than-normal temperatures can also have a negative impact on fodder as the year progresses, and Columbia County Extension Agent Jerri Lephiew said there could be cause for concern.

“The rain has been fantastic," she said. "However, the cool weather interruptions are holding back our warm season grasses, which has livestock producers a little irritated. To me this has seemed like a much more normal spring for south Arkansas, which has me hopeful we are out of the high desert weather patterns."

Despite rain, drought

impact may linger

The combination of early rain and potential later drought can have a substantial impact on the production of forage for cattle and the future development of those herds. Pope County was one of the areas hardest-hit by drought in 2012, and Phil Sims, the county's Extension staff chair, is hoping the abundant spring rain is a sign that 2013 will be less dry.

"We're cautiously optimistic," said Sims. "Pastures are covered in weeds from the lack of vegetation to protect the soil surface and the Bermuda grass is starting off real slow. The cooler temperatures have delayed the warm season grasses."

In Newton County, Extension Staff Chair Adam Willis said the green pastures are already prompting cattle to move off stored fodder.

"Cattle are really wanting to quit eating hay and have in some cases, especially if winter annuals were planted," Willis said. "There seems to be an abundance of weeds in pastures."

Last year, according to a Cooperative Extension Service report, drought had a $128 million impact on the beef cattle industry in Arkansas, costing producers an estimated $141 per head. That had an impact on associated industries of $4.4 million in labor and income, and $8.1 million in value added. It also led to three percent of ranchers planning to sell all their livestock.

For more information on forage or cattle production, visit www.uaex.edu or http://arkansaslivestockdotcom.wordpress.com/. £

1
Text Only
Area Farm & Ranch News
  • Stockpiled bermudagrass can reduce winter feed costs

    Harvested forage costs are a large part of the production costs associated with cow-calf enterprises.  
    An Oklahoma State University trial had the objective to economically evaluate stockpiled bermudagrass. The research found that this practice can reduce cow-wintering costs.

    July 22, 2014

  • FSFS to feature well drilling, equipment demonstrations

    The 40th Four State Farm Show is this weekend, and exhibitors will have over 25 acres of agricultural products and services on display.

    July 15, 2014

  • Corn growers smile in June rains, haymakers fret at few sunny days

    June, noted for the start of the hot, dry days of summer, became a spring-rain month this year.
    All grasses, including corn, continued to grow.

    July 8, 2014

  • Kansas net farm income continued to slide in 2013

    Kansas farmers took a one-two punch with drought and lower grain prices in 2013 and the result was a drop in average net income to its lowest level since 2009, according to data from the Kansas Farm Management Association’s annual PROFITLINK Analysis.

    July 8, 2014

  • Ergot hits Mo. pastures

    The first two weeks of July are prime time for ergot to appear in common pasture grasses, said University of Missouri Extension forage specialist Craig Roberts.
    Wet, cool weather, followed by heat and humidity, creates favorable conditions for the disease. “With the amount of moisture in the ground and in the plants, the state turns into an incubator when it gets hot,” Roberts said.

    July 1, 2014

  • Mo. AG files lawsuit for Barry Co. fish kill

    Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has filed suit against Tyson Foods Inc. seeking civil penalties and compensation for state costs and natural resource damages for a large fish kill in southwestern Missouri.

    June 24, 2014

  • MU offers online grain marketing ‘game’

    Market values in farming don’t stay the same for very long. Farm prices are like Missouri weather.  We don’t have to wait very long for a change.

    June 17, 2014

  • Check grasshopper populations now

    Parts of Oklahoma that have suffered from a lack of rainfall are likely to experience grasshopper infestations the likes of a Biblical plague this summer.

    June 10, 2014

  • dairy-days-Fitting-'13.jpg Dairy Days tradition continues in NW Ark.

    Youth from around the area will head to Bentonville, Ark., for the 25th Annual 4-State Dairy Days and Dairy Camp on June 19-22.

    June 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • SEK poultry litter program announced

    The Kansas Department of Agriculture – Division of Conservation has announced a program for landowners using poultry litter as part of their fertilizer program in a 10-county targeted area for poultry litter.

    May 28, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Seasonal Content