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TEXARKANA, Ark. –
It’s time to prep fields for fall stockpiled forage
Stockpiling bermudagrass or fescue for fall and winter grazing is one of the most
reliable forage practices available for extending the grazing season. Farm demonstrations
have consistently shown a positive savings when comparing cost and yield of stockpiled
forage versus harvesting and feeding hay.
Producers often hesitate upon hearing that fields planned for stockpiling bermudagrass
(or bahiagrass) should be fertilized in early to mid-August. They have been told for
years that most of the nitrogen from urea fertilizer will be lost due to volatilization
when applied during hot weather. I have heard coop managers tell this to customers
and other forage specialists have stated the same thing. But, based on actual research,
that is simply not true. Urea is a viable fertilizer N source if ammonium nitrate
is not available. Arkansas research trials on bermudagrass showed yield differences
between those N sources ranged from 0 to 15% with a majority of the studies showing
less than a 10% difference. So if urea is the primary N source carried by local dealers,
use it. If there is concern about a 10% yield difference, add 5-6 lbs/acre more N
to cover it.
Timing is very important to produce a good fall bermudagrass stockpile. Arkansas
research on stockpiling bermudagrass shows that at Batesville and Fayetteville, delaying
N application from August 1 to September 1 reduced forage dry matter yield as much
as 60-80%. In south Arkansas that date could be moved from August 1 to August 15.
Each day closer to September reduces warm season grass yield potential and viability
of making fertilizer applications economical.
Timing for fertilizing stockpiled fescue is the last week of August to the first week
of September. Our research showed that early September is the optimum time to apply
nitrogen fertilizer. Waiting until early to mid-October produced no more dry matter
yield than the unfertilized control.
So if producers need fall forage, fertilizing for stockpiled forage is a good option,
but timing is important. Other options for fall forage include planting pearl millet
or browntop millet the last of August. Browntop millet has a very fast growth cycle
and can provide grazing in 30 days. Planting oats or brassicas in early September
also works well for grazing in November and December. Ryegrass is a poor fall forage
producer, but can be mixed with winter or summer annual forages to produce grazing
later in spring.
By Jennifer Caraway County Extension Agent - AgricultureThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Jennifer Caraway County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
1007 Jefferson Avenue, Texarkana, AR 71854
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal
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participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension
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The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible
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or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity