While nitrogen prices are higher than we'd like, our data still suggests that anything we can do to graze longer and feed less hay or silage is still economical to the beef producer. You can get 25 pounds of dry matter for every pound of nitrogen you apply and even with nitrogen prices so high today that's economical.
It is essential to get nitrogen applied as soon as possible to get full growth potential from the forages. It is best to do it in late August.
In addition to stockpiling forages for winter use, now is the time to begin pasture and hayfield renovation. The month of September is a great time to get grasses started. Alfalfa seedings are recommended for late summer. Aug. 15 through Sept. 5 is the ideal time and the later it gets into the fall the riskier it is that alfalfa will fail. Grass though can be successfully established throughout September, but earlier September is much better than later in the month. Make sure fertility and pH is where it needs to be for the crop being established. If a soil test hasn't already been done, take one and fertilize accordingly once the seeding gets established.
Adding clover into existing pastures is beneficial. It will eliminate the need to add nitrogen because of its nitrogen fixation, improve the quality of the pastures and overcome some of the cattle production problems associated with feeding endophyte-infected fescue. We encourage producers to seed clover in February through a freeze/thaw method or in March if they are using a no-till drill. Now is the time to get fertility in order and do any weed control treatments. Herbicides applied in the fall will have no residual affect on the clover when it is seeded next spring.
USING FALL SOIL TESTS TO DETERMINE FERTILIZER NEEDS
Fall is a great time for soil testing and with today's high prices for fertilizer the practice can save money by aiding in a farmer's decisions on the type and amount of fertilizer he will need for his 2009 crops. Sampling in the fall offers the advantages of good weather, allows time for coming crops and gives lime, if needed, time to react with the soil prior to spring planting.
Soil samples can be submitted to the Lincoln County U.K. Cooperative Extension Office for testing. The UK College of Agriculture has two soil testing facilities that provide farmers with professional testing results. The labs — one in Lexington and one at the UK Research and Education Center in Princeton — test thousands of samples each year to aid farmers and homeowners in determining their fertilizer needs. Chemical analysis and recommendations from the UK Agricultural Testing Labs are specifically made for Kentucky conditions. Nutrient needs and fertilizer responses are determined by research conducted through UK on crops and soils in Kentucky. The U.K. soil testing service working through the Lincoln County Extension Office gives you the most research based recommendations and unbiased recommendations on what fertilizer to use. I especially encourage you to soil test your hay and pasture fields now and get them fertilized and limed this fall. This will help them survive the winter and be ready for good growth in 2009.
For more information on these or any other agricultural topics, contact me at the Lincoln County U.K. Extension Office, Dan Grigson, Agent.