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Recovering from Winterkill

Many of you are looking at hay fields or pastures and are seeing significant winterkill. The past few days my phone has been ringing off the hook from farmers and ranchers looking for cost effective ideas to over come this latest hurdle that mother nature has thrown at us.

Alfalfa Options–

#1 Rotate Fields – The first thing that you may consider if you have alfalfa and grazing pasture is to plant a permanent pasture where the alfalfa was with the idea of planting alfalfa later where your older pasture field is now. This would be a good option as it allows you to avoid the auto-toxicity in alfalfa that prevents it from being seeded back immediately to alfalfa. Improved orchardgrass varieties such as Crown Royale and Quickdraw or a Tall Fescue like Rustler, can be the basis for a highly productive, new pasture that can last for years.If a short-term pasture is more your speed, consider utilizing a good tetraploid perennial ryegrass like Oro Verde or Albion. The further north you are, the later maturity the grasses should be in your mix to match up the plant’s vegetative growth stage with your climate.

#2 Thicken up the Alfalfa Stand – If you have a weak stand yet need high quality hay like the type alfalfa can deliver, consider thickening it up with a multi-cut Berseem Clover, like our variety Frosty. Cheap berseem clovers from overseas are likely to be a single-cut variety and should be avoided. Berseem clover is similar in appearance and quality to alfalfa and will retain its green color in the bale.There have been anecdotal reports in the United States and studies conducted in the Middle East with Buffalo that suggest that Berseem Clover in the ration can improve Butterfat percentages.

You can also utilize Italian Ryegrass (biennial types), Tetraploid Intermediate Ryegrass, Festuloliums, Teff, or small grains to help fill in a field. The downside is that mixed hay brings a lower price to that of all legume hay.

If you irrigate your hayfield you will need to decrease the amount of water that you apply at a single time and speed up the frequency for optimum success. Remember that annual grasses and clovers have shorter root systems.

Raise Your Cutting Height

You will need to raise your cutting height to 3-4 inches as the ability to re-grow lies in the base of annual plants and not the roots like alfalfa. Assess your field prior to cutting to identify the lowest green leaf on the plants.If you fail to leave any green leaves you will not see any regrowth!

Base your cutting time on when the earliest component in your field is ready. For annual clovers, you will want to cut at or before the bud stage, before blooms are showing. For grasses or small grains cut at or before boot stage. If you wait until head emergence in grasses or grains or bloom in clovers, then you will see poor recovery as the plants will have shifted from vegetative to reproductive modes.

Proper Seeding Depth is Key

Get good seed to soil contact when seeding, taking care not to plant too deep. Your best option is always to drill the seed. Small seeded clovers and Teff should be sown at approximately ¼ inch deep. When sowing, stop the drill after having traveled only a few feet. If you don’t see some seed, then it is likely that you have your drill set to deep and you need to raise it a bit. If you need to broadcast, try to time it with a long period of wet weather and increase your seeding rate. If you can scuff the ground by lightly discing or with a harrow, your odds for success will improve. Make sure not to over-work it, you do not want a fluffy seed bed.You should be able to bounce a ball on the field, this will indicate a firm enough seed bed for planting.If the seed bed is too loose, then run across it with a roller to pack it down a bit.

In the Fall, you can work up your ground and plant back to alfalfa and the effect of auto-toxicity should be reduced or eliminated.

Pasture Options–

If your pasture is weak, then it may be time to work it up; however, sometimes you can easily renovate it. First step is to assess your stand (See “ Renovating Pastures with Clovers”). If you have a lot of unproductive grasses then it is probably time to start over. If there are a lot of broadleaf weeds, then you can apply a broadleaf herbicide and then drill some improved forage grasses into it to thicken the stand. Spring is an excellent time for seeding Orchardgrass or Tall Fescue. Medium-Late maturity Crown Royale Orchardgrass will provide a lot of flexibility for future use, being suitable for either grazing or hay applications.

Some brassicas are also very good for improving the productivity of the soil as they can produce forage throughout the summer. A couple of pounds per acre can go a long way when it comes to Brassicas so make sure not apply too much seed.

If you need more perennial clover in your pasture, consider utilizing AberLasting Clover. AberLasting is an amazing breakthrough in clover as it combines the establishment speed of a white clover with the resiliency of a Kura clover.Scientists at the Institute of Biological, Environmental, and Rural Sciences in Aberystwyth, Wales were able to successfully cross White Clover with Kura Clover. The resulting variety, AberLasting, features both rhizomes and stolons and as a result is much more hardy than white clover. Unlike Kura Clover, AberLasting will be productive from a forage standpoint the year of seeding.

AberLasting White x Kura Clover

Other Options- 

If nature has left you a blank slate and you need summer feed, there are options.

Frosty Berseem Clover can produce multiple cuttings over the summer.In trials at Penn State, Spring planted Frosty yielded over 4 tons/A. of hay. Unlike most clovers, Berseem is non-bloating and is safe to graze with minimal risk.

Small Grains (oats, triticale, barley) with Peas can provide 2.5 to 3.5 tons/A. in late June to mid-July. Consider using an improved pea, such as Survivor, to get the maximum productivity.This mix will deliver a highly productive forage that is especially well-suited for balage or silage.

Sorghum-Sudan, Pearl Millet, and Teff are warm-season annual grasses that can produce impressive amounts of forage. Make sure you wait to seed until all danger of frost has passed as these species are frost sensitive. These species will not overwinter and Sorghum-Sudan is not recommended for stock-pile grazing or harvesting if it has seen a frost or after it matures as there is danger of prussic acid poisoning.

For a printable, PDF version of this blog, click below.

Recovering from Winterkill.PDF

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GO-Richland 2018 Recap

Looking back at the 2018 growing season at our Richland, Iowa Research Farm, it was quite a condensed season. We had the coldest April in 100 years. I learned that the normal flowering dates for our clovers were pushed back 4-6 days and forage production was cut drastically. FIXatioN Balansa Clover forage production was less than half of what it was in the Spring of 2017. Snow and below freezing temperatures into the last week of April really limited forage production and while the flowering dates were a bit later, they couldn’t make up for the 3 weeks of growth they missed out on.

Even with a very cold, extended winter and short Spring, we had quite a bit of Frosty Berseem Clover plants that survived the winter. As in the past, these plants are allowed to flower and seed is collected. The seed from the surviving plants is then planted back again in Iowa to further select for greater cold tolerance.

In the Fall of 2017 I planted a silage trial consisting of rows of WinterMax and HyOctane Triticale as well as Hood Barley. While WinterMax showed some great traits in the fall, such as upright growth and quick establishment, being bred in New Zealand, it lacked cold tolerance and did not survive the winter. Hood Barley also had a very low survival rate. HyOctane had nearly 100% winter survival. Between the grain rows, I planted Survivor Peas which had a very high survival rate also. The HyOctane & Survivor section produced a large forage harvest in May.

Another trial I planted in the fall of 2017 was a matrix of Albion Tetraploid Perennial Ryegrass with different Clovers (FIXatioN Balansa, Frosty Berseem, Kentucky Pride Crimson,AberLasting Hybrid and Domino White). I had 2 reps of each clover/Albion mix. The highest yielding plots were the FIXatioN Balansa/Albion plots. Frosty had quite a bit of winterkill which we expected. Kentucky Pride, AberLasting and Domino all had excellent survival rates and forage production. By the fall of 2018, AberLasting and Domino were looking very strong but not overwhelming the Albion. Check out my blog with details on this trial.

In May, when the soil dried out and warmed up, I planted a Spring Cover Crop Matrix. The species planted were White Mustard, Purple Top Turnips, German Millet, Daikon Radish, Buckwheat, Phacelia, Frosty Berseem, Survivor Winter Peas, Spring Oats and Sun Hemp.The purpose of this trial was to see what combination of two species was the best at suppressing weeds. I posted a detailed blog about the findings last summer.

An idea Jerry and I came up with last Spring was to simulate strip-tilling corn into plots of clovers planted in the Fall of 2017. The clovers were FIXatioN, Frosty, Kentucky Pride and AberLasting. The Clovers all did a good job of suppressing weeds and adding Nitrogen to the corn in May. What we learned is that a 6” strip is not nearly wide enough. When the clovers hit their spring growth spurt in early May, they proved to be too much competition for the corn in many places. What we saw in AberLasting was great promise as a perennial cover crop product. More on that in the seasons to come.

The Summer of 2018 marked the end of our Forage Grass Maturity Trial. In the fall of 2016, I planted plants from 8 different species and 72 different forage varieties. The data collected on plant maturities of these varieties will help develop a forage grass maturity index to help producers select varieties that meet their forage production needs.

In September of this year, I started planting plots and trials for Spring of 2019. I planted a plot of our experimental Persian Clover variety to see how it does after a cold, roller coaster Iowa Winter. I planted a plot of a new wildlife food plot consisting of FIXatioN Balansa Clover and Dwarf Essex Rape. Jerry fell in love with this mix because the seeds are Oregon State Beaver colors. Makes sense, right?

I planted another silage trial with HyOctane Triticale as the grain component and a section with Survivor Peas and another with FIXatioN Balansa Clover. Next Spring I will measure forage output and forage quality on both.

The coolest trial planted last Fall was my Bio-Strip trial. I planted 3 rows, 6” apart of Buckwheat, Driller Radish and Oats. They all put on a tremendous amount of growth and will winter-kill. Between reps of the 3 winterkill species I have an 18” wide strip of clover. I planted FIXatioN Balansa, Kentucky Pride Crimson and AberLasting Hybrid. Next April, the goal is to plant corn between the rows of Buckwheat and Radish. The soil in that winter-killed strip should be full of nutrients and very mellow. The residue should suppress Spring weeds as well. The annual clovers between the corn rows should help suppress weeds and give the corn a shot of Nitrogen over the summer. The AberLasting will provide ground cover between corn rows and likely provide some Nitrogen as well.

As I write this blog, it is 20° outside with a 4° wind chill. It will be a long winter of fighting to survive out in Richland. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out the other side!

For a printable, PDF version of this blog, click below.

GO Richland- 2018 Recap.PDF

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2019 Richland Research Farm Update

The Winter of 2018-2019 will go down in history as one of the coldest and wettest winters ever in parts of the Midwest. While we didn’t get hit with all 24 of the named winter storms, we did have run-ins with Bruce, Carter, Gia, Harper, Indra, Jayden, Lucian, Maya I, Oren, Petra and Scott. On top of that came numerous Polar Vortexes and a bomb cyclone or two.

February in particular was remarkably brutal with heavy rain, sleet and ice on top of frozen ground. This combination of precipitation resulted in several inches of ice that stuck around well into March and suffocated vegetation. It was one of the worst winters for killing pastures and alfalfa fields many could remember. The Grassland Oregon Richland, IA Research Farm was under 3-4” of ice from early February until the second week of March. The outcome was not pretty.

Let’s take a look at what was planted last fall and how it came thru the winter.

Towards the end of August 2018, we were in the midst of a hot, dry spell and I was beginning to think it may never rain again so I decided I better get started on my fall projects early. On August 28th I planted my bio strip plot. I planted rows of Driller Radish, Oats and Buckwheat 6” apart with the next series of these species starting 36” later. These species would all winter-kill.

In a 12” strip between the winter-kill crops, I planted clovers. Four replications each of AberLasting Hybrid CloverFIXatioN Balansa Clover and Kentucky Pride Crimson Clover were utilized. The plan was to plant sweet corn between the Driller Radish and Buckwheat the following Spring. The residue from the winter-killed crops would “bio-till” the soil and the residue would help suppress weeds and hold in moisture. The clover would hopefully survive and help to suppress weeds then give the corn it’s nitrogen when they reached the end of their life cycle in May.

The winter-kill species did their job and it was like planting the corn into butter in April. AberLasting made it thru the winter unscathed. So much so that I realized I had planted it too heavy. Once warm weather arrived, the clover spread out and competed with the corn. This area of the farm was under ice for 5 weeks and it took a toll on the FIXatioN and Kentucky Pride. In early April it looked like most of it had been suffocated but 4 weeks later, I had all the FIXatioN I could handle. It’s amazing how many times we hear from a farmer that his FIXatioN didn’t make it thru the winter then a couple weeks later, they call back and say, “Holy Smokes, that clover is everywhere!” I got to see that happen first hand this year. The Sweet Corn in this plot doesn’t look too good but if you live in the Midwest, you wouldn’t expect it to. May and much of June were extremely wet and cool which is not good weather for growing corn.

On September 11, 2018 I planted large blocks of our annual legumes. FIXatioN Balansa Clover, Frosty Berseem Clover, Kentucky Pride Crimson Clover, a couple experimental Persian Clover lines, Survivor Winter Peas as well as common Hairy Vetch and Dixie (VNS) Crimson Clover. Our growing season in Iowa ended early and abruptly with cold weather arriving in early October but not before the legumes were well established and ready to take on the winter weather. These blocks of clovers were under a 3” sheet of ice for 5 weeks and it wreaked havoc on them. 90% of the Hairy Vetch was killed, 70% of the Kentucky Pride was killed, all of the Dixie (VNS) suffocated, Frosty was gone (not that unusual as it only survived down to about 15*F). FIXatioN fared the best of all but even it was only about a 50% stand. This was the first year in the 5 years I have been growing FIXatioN that it had any noticeable winter-kill.

Frost Seeding trials were on deck for February 2019 but without my hockey skates, I wasn’t going to get anything planted. On March 18th, the ground was finally clear of ice and I frost seeded Red Clover and Frosty Berseem Clover. Frosty lived up to its name and looked phenomenal.

By June 27 it was 18” tall and had suppressed the weeds that wanted to consume the farm as usual. Alfalfa fields that were frost seeded with Frosty Berseem last spring definitely paid dividends to farmers who had winter-kill difficulties in their fields.

We are now in the dog days of summer with temperatures in the mid 90’s, dew points in the 70’s and summer annual weeds stretching their legs. We have perfect conditions for foliar diseases so I am paying close attention to our space plant nursery of new turf and forage candidates to see which ones will do best in these trying conditions.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

For a printable, PDF version of this blog, click below.

2019 Richland Research Update.PDF

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Frosty Berseem Clover: Everything you wanted to know about using it in a grass on grass crop rotation but were too afraid to ask.

When it comes to trying something new on the farm it’s not uncommon for hay producers to stick with what has worked for them in the past. That can be understandable given the demand from the hay buyers to be consistent for quality hay, especially to the dairy producers. A new option for better hay is cold-tolerant Frosty berseem clover. Frosty has been shown to increase yields up to 20%, increase protein by 12%, RFV by 11% and profits by up to 25%.

One grower in South Idaho stepped outside his comfort zone and decide to give Frosty berseem clover a try. Justin Place of Place Farms in Homer, Idaho acted on an advertising card sent to him last year and planted Frosty berseem on 132 ac. to help break his grass on grass rotation cycle. Here’s what he had to say about his experience.

GO: Justin, please describe your farm to us.

Justin: “Our farm is in southeast Idaho. We’re in quite sandy ground, to kind of sandy to a loam type soil. We transitioned from a full conventional tillage program to a no-till program and were looking for a crop that we can rotate with barley and wheat that will break some disease cycles. You know, we’ve been very selective on where the potatoes have been, rotation-wise. We’re really in the very beginning stages of our whole no-till program. We were looking for something else we could put in that mix, that could go barley and small grains, and then have something that we could rotate that would be a no-till type product that could come back into with grain again without disturbing the soils. That’s what really enticed us into the clover side of things.”

GO: Where did you first hear about Frosty?

Justin: “You know, I must admit, the postcard fliers worked. That’s where I first heard about Frosty. We received a postcard in the mail. We had raised Berseem clover, it’s been many years ago. We put it in with an alfalfa crop, just as a nurse crop. We put it in, like five pounds with 15 pounds of our alfalfa to help establish the stand for the first year. But you know, we hadn’t gone back to it. When we saw the Frosty, we said, “Let’s try growing just straight Frosty Berseem.” The old variety that we had raised, any little frost, or any little inclination that it was going to get cold, you’d singe the old berseem down and it was done. That was kind of our holdback on clover before.”

GO: Did it meet your expectation for frost tolerance?

Justin: “It did, yeah. You know, we had a few nights that cooled off pretty good. I thought, “Man, we’re going to put this to the test.” I think we dropped it down to about 27, 26 degrees, and I said, “Man, I got a whole field of this out there.” With most of the plants in the four and five leave stages. I thought, “This is going to either really work or it’s going to smoke the whole field at once.” Then everything, kind of turned a little bit of a purple color, but just kept throwing leaves and kept coming. I was impressed with the frost tolerance in that regard. Even this fall, after, we took our last cutting off, it started to come back. Then we got into some real cold weather. It slowed way down, but it was still alive all the way up until it turned to a frozen block. But yeah, we were quite impressed with the way it handled the frost for what we were doing.”

GO: Did it work on breaking up your crop rotation from planting grass on grass?

Justin: ”It did. But we did have some harvesting issues with it. Frosty or whatever clover you have, there’s no cut delay. An alfalfa plant, you cut it and it doesn’t start throwing leaves again right away. It gives you just a little lag before it starts coming back from the big haircut. But the clover, on the other hand, you cut it and it starts growing leaves the next day again. We had a few challenges to dry it before we could bale it. Once we got it in a bale, it’s beautiful in the bale. It tests very, very well. But drying it was an issue for us. By third crop, we kind of had it figured out. To dry it, we had to lay the windrow as wide as we could to dry down. Then we’ll roll it together and bale. It doesn’t give you a very long window in our area to bale, because once the sun goes down, it will start transpiring and pulling moisture back up into the windrow. It would go from practically dry to a little bit dry to wet real fast. I think some of that’s the big leaf. Frosty’s got a big leaf on it. You need to manage for that a little bit different than we did with the alfalfa.”

GO: Is there anything that really surprised you about when you planted the Frosty?

Justin: “You know, I don’t know that it really did. It was a beautiful stand. All in all, we feel like it did a very good job. Where we clear-seeded it, we had a very good stand. It really yielded quite well. It did a great job for us.”

GO: Are there one or two benefits of the Frosty that really stuck out in your mind for the farm?

Justin: “Well, the one benefit is, it costs less to produce than alfalfa does. You know, the one-year, one-shot thing. It gives us a rotational product that we can use. It’s another tool in the toolbox. Water-wise, once we got the taproots down, it seemed to be fairly fuel efficient on the water. We could water it and kind of let it sit, then water it, let it sit, it wasn’t a real water hog like I thought it might be. It was probably a little less water usage then the alfalfa. By comparison, to watch the Frosty, as it cured down in the bale it gets darker. When I stacked it beside an alfalfa stack the alfalfa gets whiter, and Frosty doesn’t bleach, it just gets darker as the sun shines on it, it seems like.”

GO: Have you fed any of the Frosty yet to your animals?

Justin: “We pushed the moisture a little bit on the third cutting. So, we went in and pulled the bales out that were starting to heat a little bit. We pulled those out, fed them to the sheep and it was interesting to watch the sheep. They just all but licked the ground to get the last little bit of that stuff scooped up. They really seemed to like it quite well.”

GO: Would you recommend Frosty to others?

Justin: “I would for the right guys. I think it would be a good crop. The short seasons here that we have is a little bit of a challenge. This year was not the late fall like we’ve had the past several. The last three or four years we’re way into October, November, before it really gets cold. This year, we were in the latter part of September we were freezing every night. So, we were pretty much done growing anything by the latter part of September. It would’ve been nice if we’d had a longer fall. I really think we probably could’ve pulled another short cutting off it if we’d had one of those real late falls’ like we’ve had.”

So what we are seeing is that farmers are wanting to move into no-till situations and they are trying to figure out which is the best crop to use. Frosty berseem clover seems to be a great fit for this. The difference with Frosty is its improved winter-hardiness compared to VNS berseem, or varieties from warmer climates, that are available in the market today. Although this improvement might not always equate to winter survival, it does allow for more biomass production (which helps with N production, erosion control, weed suppression, etc.). Frosty berseem clover establishes very easily and works well when weed suppression and erosion control are some of your goals. This means Frosty berseem clover can be a species to consider as another tool for working into your crop rotation.

To learn more about Frosty Clover, visit FrostyClover.com

For a printable, PDF version of this blog, click below.

Frosty Berseem Clover- you wanted to know.PDF

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Have You Considered Frost Seeding Clover?

Even though the ground may be frozen or covered with snow where you live, the turn of the year means it is time to seriously start mapping out your spring and summer forage plan.

March is a perfect time to think about dormant seeding your pastures with a legume.

Extended growing seasons, higher yields and feeding quality, along with increased establishment rates and convenience are just a few benefits frost seeding can bring to your farm or ranch.

What Is Frost Seeding?

Dormant seeding, or frost seeding, is accomplished by broadcasting seed across the frozen ground –preferably with no snow cover. The natural heaving of the soils in the winter works the seed into the top 0.25 inches of soil. Since the clover seed can germinate and start growing once weather becomes favorable instead of having to wait until soil firms up enough to get drilling equipment into the field, frost seeding can increase establishment.

What’s The Best Clover For Frost Seeding?

Before giving frost seeding a try, it is important to do your homework on seed selection, only choosing cold tolerant varieties that will survive subfreezing temperatures.

In the past, the most prominent legume specie used in frost seeding was red clover. However, improved plant breeding is bringing more species into the frost seeding offering.

Frosty Berseem Clover

One of the most recent developments is Frosty Berseem Clover, the first cold tolerant berseem clover on the market.

Prior to its development, the ability to capture the benefits of both frost seeding and berseem clover into one system hasn’t been possible. But with the ability to thrive in temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit and zero snow cover, a cold tolerant berseem clover allows for the best of both. 

Cold tolerance isn’t the only thing that makes Frosty Berseem special. Unlike red clover, there haven’t been any cases of bloat documented. Also, unlike red clover, Frosty Berseem does not cause photosensitivity and does not have estrogen related issues.

When it comes to grazing animals, Frosty Berseem clover is the safe choice when renovating pastures with clovers!

frost seeding

Frosty Berseem Clover is also one of the few clovers that doesn’t cause bloat, making it great choice for livestock producers.

In a trial conducted by Mississippi State University, it produced non-bloating forage with crude protein content of 20.5%.

In a separate trial by Pennsylvania State University, the cold tolerant variety produced more than 4 tons of dry matter per acre in a two-cut hay system, while fixing 150 pounds of nitrogen per acre.

Cold tolerant clovers, like Frosty Berseem Clover, can be used to frost seed pastures.

When harvesting that bountiful Frosty crop, make sure to leave enough plant material, or top-growth with leaves so that it can re-grow. About 4 inches will do the trick. Unlike alfalfa, Frosty’s energy factory – which produces re-growth, is in the plant material above ground.

FIXatioN Balansa Clover

FIXatioN Balansa Clover is an excellent choice for incorporating into pastures. FIXatioN has shown very good performance and features crude protein levels and digestibility that exceeds that of most other legumes. While FIXatioN is an annual clover, it is capable of re-seeding itself and thus, will remain part of your pasture for years to come. FIXatioN thrives in heavy clay soils that can become waterlogged and offers the best performance of all clover species in acidic soils.

Crimson Clover

Kentucky Pride Crimson Clover is late maturing, flowering up to two weeks later than other varieties of crimson. It was selected for its unique cold tolerance and ability to produce much more forage than its competitors. Kentucky Pride is an excellent component in mixes providing quality forage. Its roots can grow down beyond 30 inches, breaking down hard pans in the soil.

AberLasting Clover

AberLasting is the first Caucasian white clover hybrid to be developed anywhere that offers drought tolerant rhizomatous root characteristics as well as the nutritive and N-fixing benefits of white clover. Developed through conventional crossing techniques, AberLasting is a small leaved white clover that has proven to be drought tolerant and persistent, even in clover root weevil areas, and therefore is ideal for long term grazing. AberLasting was bred for stress tolerance, grazing tolerance, pest and disease resistance and are fully compatible with all Grassland Oregon ryegrass cultivars.

Dynamite Red Clover

Dynamite is a high-yielding, double-cut red clover that was selected for both improved disease resistance and forage production. It is ideal for use throughout the United States and Canada. It exhibits early spring growth with abundant regrowth after harvest which improves the overall life of stand. It is less fibrous making it more digestible, which can lead to an increase in animal performance in terms of both milk and meat production. Red clover should be avoided if the pasture is used by either horses or sheep.

Frost Seeding Into Alfalfa

Frosty Berseem clover’s physical appearance, forage quality, and dry down time is similar to that alfalfa. Making Frosty the number one choice for filling in thin stands of alfalfa. Frosty is tolerant of wetter soils than alfalfa so if you have areas in your hay field that drowned out, Frosty Berseem can fill the void.

Frosty Berseem Clover is the variety to use to incorporate into declining alfalfa stands. Frosty is a multi-cut berseem clover that is similar in appearance and in forage quality to that of alfalfa. Frosty is also one of the few clover varieties that have been shown to have little to no incidence of bloat.

In a recent trial conducted in Mississippi, Frosty was sown as a monoculture and directly grazed. No bloat was observed among the cattle that were grazing it.

No matter which species you choose, GO Seed has you covered in this low-cost way to improve your forage.

For a printable, PDF version of an earlier version of this blog, click below.

Have You Considered Frost Seeding.PDF

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Experiencing Frosty Berseem Clover in Northern Michigan

by Guest Blogger, Jeremy Sweeten

My name is Jeremy Sweeten and I am a hay/beef farmer in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, about 20 minutes southwest of Sault Saint Marie, MI. I can see Canada when I look to the north of our farm. We raise about 500 acres of timothy hay, custom raise 100 red and black angus beef stockers, and custom raise 50-70 cow calf pairs on 225 acres of pasture. We are also starting a grass fed herd with five bred heifers this year. My real job is working for The CISCO Companies, Indianapolis, IN, as the northern forage agronomist.

The farm ground in the EUP is flat, heavy, and poorly drained clay and clay loam. The pH on our farm ranges from 5.6 to 6.3. The predominant species are timothy and birdsfoot trefoil. The drainage is accomplished with the use of dead furrows on 40-60’ spacing. I know that cover crops work well for improving soils, so as we redo fields and put drainage back in, I want to use cover crops for soil health improvement. I am always looking for more legumes that will grow in our tough soil and environmental conditions to improve grass growth and add protein to the cattle’s ration.

Frosty berseem clover interested me because of its tolerance for saturated soils low pH, beneficial tannins, and high forage quality. I really wanted to be able to graze my cover crop as well to improve cattle weight gains. I bought 100 lbs of Frosty to try. I used 40 lbs to interseed into existing pasture with red and ladino clover. I used a traditional John Deere 8300 drill to interseed my clovers on May 9, 2017. The red clover was seeded at 6 lb/A, ladino at 0.75 lb/A, and the Frosty at 2 lb/A. By May 25, cotyledons were visible from the clover mix.

I used the other 60 lbs of Frosty in a 41 ac cover crop mix that ultimately was 33 acres were mowed and wet wrapped for feed and 8 acres were grazed. The ground was conventionally moldboard plowed to put the drainage furrows every 60’. I used a mixture of BMR forage sorghum, BMR sorghum sudangrass, buckwheat, field peas, Frosty berseem clover, oats, hairy vetch, a mix of annual and perennial ryegrass, festulolium, and radishes. I cleaned out my old seed inventory, but was truly interested in planting a very diverse mixture to kick start my soils after plowing. The mix was seeded at 40 lbs/ac with the same 8300 drill on June 20.

The growing season was cool and wet. Highs were at best in the mid-70’s and lows dipped into the upper 40’s several nights. Not the most ideal growing conditions. So here is what happened. With the Frosty seeded into the pasture, it took 45-60 days for it to become visible. The cattle ate it very well. After talking with GO, my seeding rate was too low and should have been 6-10 lb/A.

The Frosty berseem clover in the cover crop mix performed very well. The mix emerged well and came on steadily throughout the summer. When we cut the CC mix in early October, the Frosty was over waist high and growing profusely. The cattle intake on the grazed cover crop was outstanding. I was able to graze the cover crop mix twice. Our growing season is only 120 days, so that was pretty good for a spring seeding. I left enough regrowth hoping that the Frosty will regrow next spring. In early November, we had one night of -6F with no snow cover. The ground was not frozen. The Frosty appears to still be growing. I will follow up next spring with what I find.

My final thoughts are as follows. I didn’t have enough grazable cover crop to measure any weight difference on the stockers. Gains across the EUP were off this year due to the poor weather conditions. However, judging by the way they ate the Frosty, I will be planting more as a grazing cover crop. I think I will try the 4-6 lb/A range next year. The Frosty handled the standing water and low pH very well. I think the Frosty will help me through the summer slump of the timothy and BFT. Nodule growth was very present. The cover crop was brilliant green with no commercial fertilizer. I was not as impressed overseeding pastures with Frosty. I feel that it doesn’t handle competition or cool, wet soils like red or ladino clovers do. I am confident that Frosty will fit on our farm long term; I just have to learn the best ways to use it.

For a printable, PDF version of this blog, click below.

Experiencing Frosty Berseem Clover in Northern Michigan.PDF

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Managing for Trophy Bucks

Nobody hopes to bag a small deer. Hunters scout for the ideal spot. They strategize as to what food plot mix to plant to hunt over and spend hours looking over gear. Everybody knows that what you get out of something is directly related to the time, money, and energy that you put into it.

So, let’s talk about food plots. If you’re focused entirely on “hunt over” plots you are missing the mark when it comes to growing bigger deer. Hunters wanting big deer know that you need to also provide high energy forage in the Spring. This is the time frame needed to grow big fawns and big racks.

To learn more, check out our latest brochure, “Managing Trophy Bucks

If video is more your style, check out the brief infomercial that our crack marketing team put together. “Growing Bigger Deer” is a quick way to get the message out on how FIXatioN Balansa Clover goes beyond a “hunt over” component of a food plot. Big fawns grow up to be big deer and nutrition is the key!

If you like the format of the video or brochure be sure to let your Grassland Oregon salesperson know or drop us a line at info@grasslandoregon.com
Have some great topics that you would like us to address? Let us know! Remember there are no dumb ideas. Well okay, maybe there are a few, but Risa has already told me, “No, we aren’t doing that”.

For a printable, PDF version of this blog, click below.

Managing Trophy Bucks.PDF

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Inter-seeding cover crops requires long range weather forecasting

Lately you may have been hearing a lot about inter-seeding as a means to get cover crops started early or where otherwise, due to late corn harvest, they might not get planted at all.

While inter-seeding into corn has been fairly successful, I have yet to hear of much success when seeding into soybeans. As with anything there are risks and it seems that drought is one of the biggest when it comes to successfully establishing an inter-seeded crop into corn.

When we first heard of inter-seeding we thought we would try it on our SE Iowa research farm. The first year it worked well. I was nervous our annual clovers or annual ryegrass would quickly go to seed. However, it appears the shade from corn is enough to defeat the photoperiod maturity aspect of these species. The only spots where we saw any flowering was along the edge of the field, something that is easily adjusted for. Our second year we planted later than I would have liked and it got too dry before we could get much size on the cover crops. As a result, most did not make it and we didn’t have much of a stand when the corn crop started to dry down. The one variety that did perform the best was our Frosty Berseem clover, which has better drought tolerance than the other species.

Later we tried to duplicate our trial on a nearby farm but pre-emergent herbicide residual kept anything from establishing. If you are going to try inter-seeding you will want to limit your use of pre-emergent herbicide or test germinate some quick germinating seed in an area where you can watch and water it regularly. If it doesn’t live where you baby it, don’t bother seeding across the rest of the field.

We felt that we had learned enough that when we were approached by Dr. Ryan Haden of Ohio State to help fund his inter-seeded cover crop trial we were happy to do so. Below is the data from his first year of the trial.

I feel that inter-seeding will work, but you need to pay attention to the long-range forecast. Since the Ohio State data doesn’t show a lot of biomass, I doubt that the increase in yield in 2015, the establishment year, had much to do with biological Nitrogen fixed by the clovers. I believe what we are seeing in this trial must do more with the soil conditioning properties of the cover crops and the biological responses in the soil. The 2016 data would be in response to the nitrogen produced by the clover in addition to the biological soil improvement. There is a lot left to learn when it comes to inter-seeding and we will be sharing more data as it comes along.

For a printable, PDF version of this blog, click below.

Inter-seeding Cover Crops.PDF

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A Promising Research Update From Iowa

It’s been a very cold winter so far in Iowa.  Just last week we had temperatures of -20 and wind chills of -50.  I visited the Richland Research Farm today to check on snow cover which can help insulate plants from the extreme cold we are experiencing.  Even though we have had about 14” of snow in the past month, there was very little clinging to the flat wind-swept ground in Richland.  The white mustard cover crop we planted last fall has winter-killed as planned.  The turf and forage plants seeded last May are brown and dormant, waiting for warmer days.  In September we planted another round of turf and forage plots.  Unfortunately, it was a very dry early fall so the plots that did come up have very small, vulnerable plants.  It will be interesting to see what survived come Spring.  

Of particular interest are the Frosty Berseem Clover and Fixation Balansa Clover plots.  This very cold weather will tell us a lot about just how cold tolerant these new varieties are.  We have a long way to go until Spring weather arrives but I’m counting the days until I can get my hands dirty in Richland again.

Winter is also a time for Conferences and indoor learning opportunities.  In December we exhibited at the ASTA Corn, Soybean and Sorghum meeting in Chicago.  A lot was learned about opportunities to expand the adoption of cover crops by corn and soybean farmers in the Midwest.  Next up is the National No-Till Conference in Springfield, IL followed by the Practical Farmers of Iowa conference and the No-Till on the Plains Conference in Kansas.  These conferences are a great opportunity for us to learn about new research in the cover crop arena and network with farmers, researchers, and government leaders in the field of conservation and cover crops.