New publication can help farmers whose fall forage planting delayed by floods
BLACKVILLE — Farmers continue to feel ripple effects from historic flooding in South Carolina.
Cattle farmers are unable to access some fields to plant seed for winter forage, said Scott Sell, a Clemson Extension livestock agent at the Edisto Research and Education Center in Blackville.
“Right now is a critical time when we need to be planting our winter grazing,” he said.
Sell suggested farmers consider planting ryegrass for forage because it can be spread on a field with a slinger and doesn’t need to be planted like other forage varieties.
“They’ll germinate just like that. You don’t actually have to plant them,” he said.
Clemson Extension forage specialist John Andrae said wet weather may help forage establishment and production this year because in normal years forage germination is delayed by dry conditions. The wet conditions will impact forage species selection, soil fertility and equipment use, however.
Sell, Andrae and fellow Extension specialists Jay Crouch, Brian Beer and Marion Barnes this week released a new publication, “Delayed Planting Options for Winter Annual Forages,” to help livestock farmers navigate these challenges. The publication can be used with “Forage Leaflet 20,” which outlines annual grasses that can be used for forage in the winter. That publication is available online here.
Farmers should choose high quality seed free of noxious weed seeds. Farmers using hay should examine existing bales for mold and other mycotoxins that affect livestock health, Sell said.
“These hay bales that have stood in water for days and days and days, there could be some real micro-toxin issues with those,” Sell said.
In the wake of the flood, livestock owners also should survey fields for debris that could injure cattle, Sell said, as well as remove fallen leaves and limbs of cherry trees.
“They’re not toxic when they’re green, but they’re toxic when they’re wilting, so if you have cherry trees on your farm, and almost all of us do, make sure you’re checking for those,” he said.