News Filed Under Forages
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Harvest conditions are about the only bright spots in the hay and pasture outlook in Mississippi.
Timing is everything in hay production. Pastures and fields need rain for growth, and producers need sunny days to preserve the quality of hay cuttings. Hay harvests are running ahead of schedule, but the lack of rain and cool nights are slowing pastures and second cuttings.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A hay season like this year's leaves cattle producers with only one thing to cut: cows.
Most Mississippi cattle producers who were holding out hope for a decent hay cutting before fall now realize it is time to cull herds before they are left with too many mouths and not enough feed to last the winter.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Normally, hay growers do not get nervous about a drought until July, but this is not likely to be a normal year.
The last soaking rain is a vague memory for most growers and by mid-May, conditions were more like July.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Heat and drought are claiming another Mississippi casualty as hay production is way down in most areas of the state.
While some parts of the state have received ample rain, most are parched and facing severe hay shortages this fall.
John Wilson, Itawamba County agricultural program assistant with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the commercial hay producers in his county are going to be at least one-third short on filling hay orders.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Hot, dry weather across most of the state for about a six-week period this summer slowed grass growth and hay production in Mississippi.
Dr. Lamar Kimbrough, Mississippi State University Extension Service forage specialist, said many of the state's hay producers have made fewer cuttings than normal due to the drought through June and early July.
"Much of the state got enough rain around July 12 to meet the moisture needs," Kimbrough said. "We made some hay after that, but we're running out of water again."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Recent dry weather has been great for putting up winter hay, but it's slowed the growth of summer grasses and reduced its quality.
Dr. Bill Tucker, supervisor of the Mississippi State University dairy farm, said abnormal weather has made the first cutting of summer hay late this season.
"The weather has been hotter and drier than normal and our summer grasses have not come out as vigorously as they usually do," Tucker said.
Quality, as well as quantity, suffers as well when there is not enough moisture.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rains provided some relief to Mississippi's dry conditions, but cattle producers were the main benefactors. Row crops will reap minimal profit or damage from the water.
Rankin County agricultural agent Houston Therrell said cattlemen and wildlife enthusiasts were the big winners.
"Pastures were extremely short. Most had stopped growing a month before the rains arrived," Therrell said. "These rains will help the winter grasses come along as well as help pastures gain some grass before the first frost."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- You've got to make hay while the sun shines, but Mississippi producers have not seen many clear skies at key hay cutting times.
Despite a late start, many state farmers were completing the second or third cutting of the hay season by the middle of August with hopes weather will allow one more. Mississippi's hay production probably will reach just 90 percent of normal levels.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A common sight around the state is a piece of farm equipment or an old out-building barely visible under a covering of kudzu.
Because it spreads rapidly, people fight an uphill battle to control the vine. But new studies have found that goats, with their tendency to eat anything green, may help destroy this weed.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cattle and pregnant horses could suffer serious health problems this spring from a grass intended for cool-season nourishment.
Dr. Michael Brashier, an assistant professor at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, encouraged veterinarians to be on the lookout for fescue toxicity. Brashier addressed the concern during the recent meeting of the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association.
By Bethany Waldrop Keiper
VERONA -- Scorching temperatures that have reduced hay yields and quality in some areas of the state are providing good conditions for harvest.
"Our growers are busy making hay while the sun shines," said Charles Fitts, Chickasaw County agent. "The dry weather is providing an optimum time for hay harvesting and curing."
Recent reports estimate Mississippi's 1995 hay production to total 1.65 million tons, down 12 percent from last year.
VERONA, Miss. -- Spring rains have given all Mississippi farmers a challenge to overcome. But untimely rains causing a poor quality crop could mean a loss of profits for growers and costly supplements for livestock owners next winter.
Timing is important in hay production -- from fertilizing before moderate rainfall to cutting when the crop is mature to harvesting before rains reduce nutrients.
Dr. Pat Bagley, head of the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona, said rains are making the first cutting of hay a challenge.