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Commodities: Field Crops: Forages

Forage News & Views - Winter 2014

A periodic email sent to Georgia’s County Extension Agents.

Dr. Dennis Hancock, Forage Extension Specialist, University of Georgia

This issue of the Forage News and Views contains a brief update (ok, not all of them are brief) on the following topics:

Forage Meetings – County, Multi-County, State

Being in the same room with 200+ other ANR Extension professionals at Winter School should be enough to inspire awe in all of us. I am privileged to work with such a dedicated lot. The other great thing about being at Winter School is that folks get a chance to provide us with feedback. I lead with this section because some of the feedback I heard at Winter School has left me concerned.

A few years back, several things were said that may lead one to believe that I cannot pay for travel to your county or that the demands on my time do not allow for me to do traditional county meetings. I want to dispel this notion. Although my schedule stays full, I generally operate on a first come, first serve basis. I say generally because I do have a prioritization scheme. Multi-county efforts, counties with new Agents, and counties with significant Plan of Work devoted to forage/livestock issues are my highest priorities. I want to assure you that if you have a need or desire for a forage program in your county, I will find a way to make it happen.

The first key is to ask for a program well in advance. My schedule usually is full about 3-4 months in advance, so plan accordingly. The second key is to utilize some of our Forage Team’s expertise. Our Team members have specialties in a variety of forage topics. They are excellent additions to meetings, field days, etc., and they can help provide additional support to your county efforts. Finally, I’d ask that you be flexible. Doing programs by videoconference or by using videos prepared in advance has become much easier and more acceptable to the public in recent years. If you have a need, I’ll try to fill it to the best of my ability in person, on video, or with an equally competent (and much better looking) stand-in.

Southeast Hay Convention is March 11-12, 2014

Please help us advertise the 2014 Southeast Hay Convention. General information about the program is listed here: A full agenda will be posted there in the coming days. Also, we plan on having the registration system up and running ASAP. An announcement will come out when it is up. I would also strongly urge you to attend. Many of you have signed up for this as an Extension training. We cover some very in-depth topics with this program, so I strongly recommend it. In the Extension Training System, I think it was listed as costing $100 to attend. My goal is to offer it to Agents for free, and as long as we get plenty of attendees, I will be able to do so. So, help me fill up the pews and it will help you ensure there is a discount.

Major Changes with the Southeastern Hay Contest

As you know, the SE Hay Contest has seemed to be in decline in the last few years. A lot of it has to do with us (all of us, and me especially) not really being as proactive with it as we should. But, I think that it lacks a little something.

 One thing that has always been missing is a set of prizes for the winners. Currently, winners get bragging rights, a handshake (if they are lucky), and recognition in the press, but that is about it. To correct this, Dr. Saha (director of our FEW lab); our counterparts from Auburn, Clemson, and Florida; and I have implemented some strategies to improve the value that participants get from the Contest. The complete SE Hay Contest rules and entry form are available here: In summary, here are the major improvements made for the 2014 Southeastern Hay Contest:

  1. We add cash prizes for 1st-3rd in each category and one overall winner. There is a total of $750 in cash and in-kind prizes.
  2. We offer SEHC participants an exclusive opportunity to list their names in a SE Hay Directory (Directory to be put together and managed by FEW lab staff).

To accomplish these improvements (and specifically to cash-flow the prize money), we have had to include some basic fees:

  1. Entry fee of $2 per entry is instituted (previously it was free), which is necessary to develop a pool of money for the prizes, certificates, and any mailing of the certificates that needs to be done.
  2. If the person wants to be listed in the SE Hay Directory (which, again, is only open to those who enter the Contest), there is a fee of $30 per person/farm. This only is paid once. If a producer has only one SEHC entry and they want to be listed in the SE Hay Directory, then it is $30 per farm or person. If they have 20 entries in the contest, it is still just $30 per farm or person to be listed in the Directory.

Another major change is that the day-to-day management of the Contest (and new directory) will be taken over by the FEW lab, though I will still assist in finalizing/confirming the results and support them as needed. This means that if you have a question about the Hay Contest, an entry you’ve sent, a listing in the directory, or anything else… Dr. Saha and his staff are your first contact. Please note: all entries must be in by 5 p.m. on Monday, September 22nd

New Publication on Understanding and Improving Forage Quality

Do you remember all those hard questions you asked me about forage quality and all those questions you asked me about what are typical forage quality values? Well, have I got something for you! The new publication entitled “Understanding and Improving Forage Quality” has just been released and it can be found here:

I want to specifically call your attention to a few items in that publication that you should consider using when communicating with producers who have submitted forage tests.  On pg. 6, there is a table that describes how those different forage terms are useful. This could be used in concert with the previously published “Common Terms Used in Animal Feeding and Nutrition” found here: Pg. 11 highlights the most important items on the forage test report, and it guides the user through them. Pg. 14 has a chart that provides the average and typical range for CP, TDN, RFQ, ADF, NDF, and lignin for all of our major forage species/types. This way, you and your producers can compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.

I suggest that when you print off a forage test report to send to the producer, you should also print off pg. 11 and 14 (at least) to include in that report. That is the reason that we made it that way… so that they were stand-alone pages that could be printed off with the forage test report. Our hope is that you could print the report and the additional 2-3 pages front and back and still key the postage down to a single stamp. How ‘bout them apples!

Challenges with Forage Quality this Winter

This season’s near daily rainfall caused a lot of delays in our hay and silage fields. The consequence is that a lot of very poor quality forage was put up this year. The standard joke has been that we’re measuring forage quality this year in terms of board feet! However, this is no laughing matter. Hay that is this low in quality can have lingering effects for months to come. In addition, when the weather is as cold as it has been the last month or more, the lack of energy in our poor quality hay is not enough to meet the animal’s maintenance requirements. This is causing a lot of stress on our livestock, and it has caused an alarming number of animal deaths. Read more here:

Late Winter Plantings of Winter Annuals

I’ve been getting a lot of calls about late planting (e.g., now… which is really late) of winter annuals for grazing. Several years back, I put together an article on this in conjunction with Dr. Don Ball, my counterpart in Auburn at the time. Take a look here for more info:

Fertilizing Winter Annual Forage Crops

I’ve also been getting a lot of calls about how to fertilize winter annual forage crops. There is good guidance on this in the soil test recommendations for the “Temporary Winter Grazing” crop code #050 (see: But, for a more in-depth discussion, take a look here:  

Winter Grain Mites

After a couple of years with relatively few problems with winter grain mites, these critters are back with a vengeance. I’ve received many reports of winter grain mite injury to pastures all around the state. Take a look here for more info:

Latest on Bermudagrass Stem Maggot

We are developing more and more information on the bermudagrass stem maggot. At the recent American Forage and Grassland Council’s Annual Meeting in Memphis, I presented the latest information on this exotic pest. A 30 min. training video is forthcoming. However, you can read the proceedings article here: If you are looking for a presentation slide set for this topic, download it from the “County Agents Only” page here: (NOTE: When you click on the later link, you should be prompted to enter in the ID and PW for the’s County Agent Only page.)

Re-dedicating a Key Research Station

In past email alerts, you’ve seen where I have made mention that we are working hard to develop our research program at the “new to us” J. Phil Campbell Research and Education Center. On Tuesday Jan. 21, 2014, there was a dedication ceremony held at the JPCREC. After decades of service as a USDA-ARS research facility, the station was closed in 2011 as the result of federal budget cuts. However, the research farm was transferred to the University of Georgia in agreement to ensure that the property would remain in agricultural research for at least the next 25 years.

For the Georgia Forages program, we cannot overstate how beneficial this will be to our research efforts. This research station has quite the legacy of affecting a major change on how we manage forage crops in the Southern Piedmont. We hope to continue that legacy. The Georgia Forages research program will be a key program at the JPCREC. We look forward to telling you about some of the major efforts that we have planned there. Stay tuned!

Georgia Forage Students Perform Well at the American Forage and Grassland Council Meeting

 Two students pursuing Master’s degrees in the Georgia Forages program at UGA joined the UGA contingent at the recent American Forage and Grassland Council’s annual meeting in Memphis earlier this month. Lisa Baxter, a M.S. student slated to finish her degree this spring, participated in the Emerging Scientist competition by presenting her research on the bermudagrass stem maggot. She earned 1st Place! Katie Payne, another M.S. student finishing her degree in the spring, presented poster on her work on using enhanced efficiency N fertilizer on bermudagrass. Though she wasn’t in a competition, her poster was a resounding success. Then, the pair of them entered the AFGC Forage Identification Competition and they won 1st place! We have some really great students, and Lisa and Katie are leading the way! We now have a total of eight M.S. students and a post-doc in our research program at present. We are looking forward to training the next generation of researchers and (most importantly) addressing and solving some of our producer’s key management challenges.

Upcoming Meetings

We have several meetings coming up in the next weeks and months. A long list of multi-county and statewide programs can be found here: If you have a meeting that you want to advertise on this page, feel free to send me some info about it. Here are the highlights for the next few weeks:

Northwest Georgia Forage Workshop

January 28, 2014 | Calhoun, GA | Gordon County Extension Office | Flyer | To RSVP, call: 706-629-8685

Silage Production Workshop

January 30, 2014 | 10 a.m. - noon | Cordele, GA | Crisp County Extension Office (map) | To RSVP, call 229-276-2612

Southeast Georgia Beef Cattle Short Course

March 4, 2014 | Irwinville, GA | Bull Test Station (map) | More Info, call 229-386-3683

Southeast Hay Convention

March 11-12, 2014 | Watkinsville, GA | Complete Agenda Coming Soon | Additional Details

Winter Annual Forage Crops: Cash, Cover, and Carbon (Field Day)

March 17, 2014 | Odum, GA | More Details Coming Soon

Georgia Forages Conference @ GCA

April 2, 2014 | Perry, GA | More Details Coming Soon

Corn Silage and Conserved Forage Field Day

May 24, 2014 | Citra, FL | More Details Coming Soon

American Forage and Grassland Council's Annual Field Tour

June 25-27, 2014 | Entriken, PA | More Details Coming Soon


If you’ve made it to the end of this long diatribe, you’ve earned the right to have a chuckle. I’m not saying what I’m about to offer will do the trick, but I’ll try. If at the end, you hain’t at least smiled… go get yourself a feather.

Here are some random thoughts (some of them are even original):

  • The hotel we stayed at in Memphis was real fancy. Even had a bellhop running the elevator. I asked him how he likes his job. He said, "Ah, you know, it has its ups and downs."
  • I always manage to get the last words in when I argue with my wife. "Yes, dear."
  • Do you think mirror installers ever saw themselves doing that?
  • I think my cat is a communist. Every time I ask her who her favorite political leader is, she says “Mao”.



Below is this the most recent update emails that I have sent:
FNV1108 -- Sent: 7-13-11
FNV1103 -- Sent: 2-14-11
FNV1007 -- Sent: 7-29-10
FNV1006 -- Sent: 6-09-10
FNV1005 -- Sent: 4-14-10
FNV1003 -- Sent: 2-23-10
FNV1001 -- Sent: 12-23-09
FNV0908 -- Sent: 8-11-09
FNV0905 -- Sent: 5-17-09 (.mp3 version : 10 min. 26 sec.)
FNV0903 -- Sent: 3-19-09
-- Sent: 2-12-09
FNV0901 -- Sent: 12-22-08
FNV0812 -- Sent: 12-5-08
-- Sent: 9-14-08
FNV0808 -- Sent: 7-22-08
FNV0807 -- Sent: 7-2-08
-- Sent: 4-7-08
-- Sent: 2-21-08
FNV0712 -- Sent: 12-19-07
FNV0711 -- Sent: 11-12-07
FNV0710 -- Sent: 10-12-07
FNV0708 -- Sent: 8-24-07
FNV0707 -- Sent: 7-27-07