While this week's topics are unrelated otherwise, timing is very important to both.
First we will talk about forage seed supplies followed by using herbicide applications to control woodland invasive plants like bush honeysuckle.
If you are planning on seeding forages next spring, now is the time to be talking with your vendor about seed and making sure you have an order. Forage seed supplies overall are tight. Unlike annually planted crops like corn and soybean where very little carry over occurs, normally there is a 20 to 40 percent carryover of forage seed from one year to the next in the supply pipeline. This year there is virtually no forage seed carryover. Several reasons have cumulated to cause this shortage. One of the biggest drivers is indirectly related to the major changes in agriculture due
to ethanol. This statement is not meant to be discouraging towards ethanol, but it is an understatement to reference ethanol as a revolution in the world of agriculture. Spurred by demand driving prices higher, more acres were moved into corn for ethanol production. Soybean and wheat acres were tighter and both crops had issues during the past growing season driving their prices higher. Most of the forage seeds are grown in Oregon and the northwest as it is cooler and the time of harvest turns dry for producing high quality seed. In the past these farmers did not have a lot of other good economic options, but now with higher wheat prices, some farmers in that area are switching to wheat rather than producing forage seed.
Adding to problems was the hard freeze during three consecutive nights back in April that decimated hay with alfalfa. Many hay fields were converted to corn following this event. In many cases these producers will be looking to reseed hay putting further demand on seed. Also Roundup Ready« alfalfa was being produced and after significant quantities of seed was produced; companies were disallowed to sell this product. This put further strain on the conventional alfalfa seed supply.
Orchardgrass seed will be very tough to find as it has had a disease issue in the northwest called "choke" that also hurts production. Alfalfa seed has been up more than $0.40 per pound in the last couple of months and will go higher on somewhat tight supply. Smooth bromegrass will also have pretty tight availability. The sudangrass crop is produced mostly in California and supply for this short term forage should be good. A handful of local producers utilized sudangrass very successfully during this past growing season and may be an alternative in the short term if seed is unavailable for traditional forage crops.
Switching to invasive plant issues, in many cases the bright green understory bushes that are now easy to spot in woodlands illustrate the advancement of the invasive bush honeysuckle varieties in our local woodlands. Many revere bush honeysuckles as wildlife plantings. The problem is that these bush honeysuckles become very dense and choke out the young tree growth and development. This interrupts succession in the woodland and ultimately destroys woodland areas in that current big trees will not have young trees coming along as replacements. Since timing is everything, now while other plants are dormant, one can use herbicides without harming other species. A one percent solution of glyphosate (e.g. Roundup«) sprayed on the foliage will provide control. It is best to do foliar applications when the temperature is at or above 50║ F for best uptake by the plant. Well established stands are likely best managed by cutting the stems to the ground and painting or spraying the stumps with a 20-30 percent solution of glyphosate or eight percent solution of triclopyr (e.g. Ortho Brush B-Gon concentrate). For more info about invasive plants, visit http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/CAPS/ to learn more.
You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 829-5020 x14 in Owen County or 448-9041 in Clay County for more information or publication copies regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs.
While most publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.
Nov. 3-16 North American International Livestock Expo, Louisville, KY
Nov. 15 Organic Markets and Certification, Spencer, 6 p.m.
Nov. 20 Addressing Forage Shortages, Spencer or Brazil, 7 p.m.
Nov. 22-23 Extension Offices Closed
Dec. 6 Private Applicator Recertification Program, Brazil
Dec. 11 Private Applicator Recertification Program, Stinesville
Jan. 28-30 Indiana Hort Congress, Indianapolis