Considerations for Haying Summer Annuals and Native Grasses

There are a lot of forages that make great feed for cattle, summer annuals and native prairie grasses are just a few. 

Pat Keyser, professor and director of the Center for Native Grasslands Management at the University of Tennessee and Daren Redfearn, Extension forage specialist for University of Nebraska both shared some haying tips with Drovers. Here are some additional thoughts from Keyser and Redfearn regarding summer annuals and native hay fields:

Summer Annuals

Summer annuals like Sudan grass and forage sorghum are nearing planting right now. Redfearn recommends using a seed variety that works best for your particular region.

“What you need to do is find some information that you can find and rely on the closest to where you are evaluated based on that,” Redfearn says.

A standard Sudan grass or sorghum- Sudan hybrid might work best for a multi cutting situation, while a brown mid-rib (BMR) variety would be better for accumulating yield. Redfearn says a BMR variety offers harvest flexibility because it doesn’t accumulate as much lignin or fiber.

Native Hay Fields

Perennial hay fields composed of native grasses such as Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem and Indian Grass have different growing phases because they have multi-cultured fields rather than a mono-culture like fescue. Keyser says forage growers should make there harvest plans based on the dominate grass in the hay stand.

Big or Little Bluestem will be the earliest maturing grass of the three major native species, so Keyser says they tend to drive the bus on hay cutting. If moisture permits it Keyser says their might be an opportunity for an early cut with Big or Little Bluestem, then getting a second cutting later in the summer when the Indian Grass is at maturity.

For additional tips on haying read: Hay Harvest Considerations

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