It’s Time to Fertilize!

— Written By Clint Carty
en Español

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It is that time of year again! Hopefully, you have already started to fertilize your hay fields and pastures. If you haven’t then now is the time to act! Your forages need to be fed nutrients in order to be bountiful and have high yields. This is the most important step in the process when it comes to growing forages besides actually sowing seeds. Top dressing your fields during the spring is what will set the pace for the rest of the summer. Just think about this previous year, we had decent hay yields in the spring and then the summer put a hurt on us. Having no rain for 6 weeks made most of my hay fields look like lawn clippings when we were baling second cutting hay. But, because I top dress aggressively I had a lot of first cutting hay which is the only reason I made it through this winter.

Yes, fertilizer is costly, but it is necessary to have adequate forages. The money spent now in the next couple weeks is well worth it come grazing and haying time. We as cattle producers should have the mindset of being forage producers. Our forages are what we use to feed our cattle so if we don’t have good forages for them to eat then they will not be as productive as they should be. After all, “we are what we eat”.

As we move into warmer weather another production tool that can be utilized in a hay and pasture program is warm season grasses. If you have a pasture or hay field that isn’t performing as you would like it to an option is planting some warm season grasses. If you were to plant some warm season grasses this spring and harvest or graze the field throughout the summer it could benefit you and your animals. Then this fall after you had some decent production in the warm season you could plant new cool season grasses this fall and keep your production going. Warm season grasses work great for winter feed when baled, they also have a lot of biomass so this winter you would have plenty of hay in case we run into another tough summer.

Please feel free to call our extension office with any questions and concerns for your farming operation. 336-694-4158.

By: Clint Carty

Livestock Extension Caswell County