MSU Extension Service Resource For Forage, Hay, Feed

  • Alfalfa Weevil
  • Plant Hay Barley Early
  • Control of alfalfa weevils, pea aphids, alfalfa weevil larvae, Colorado potato beetle, green peach aphid,Cabbage seed pod weevil and beneficial insects
  • “falcata” alfalfa
  • "Willow Creek" forage Winter Wheat
  • Sainfoin
  • Guidelines on establishing alfalfa and preventing herbicide-resistant weeds
  • Weed-free Rangelands and Wildlife Habitat
  • What is an adequate alfalfa stand?
  • Establishing a Successful Alfalfa Crop
  • Book offers data on seeding pastures in Montana and Wyoming
  • Do a quick test of small grain hay's nitrate levels
  • Rehabilitation of Weed- Infested Rangeland
  • Montana Guide to Range Site, Condition and Initial Stocking Rates
  • "Souped-UP Annual Forages for Fall Grazing
  • Montana Performance Summaries - Alfalfa Varieties
  • Precipitation relative to perennial grass production
  • Do You Have to Run Out of Forage Before You Manage?
  • Choosing Alfalfa Varieties
  • How to Make Irrigated Alfalfa "Pay" in it's First Year
  • Sorghum and Sudangrass for Forage
  • Irrigated Pasture Management in Montana
  • Species Selection, Seeding Techniques and Management of Irrigated
  • What is the yield difference between Haybet and Piroline for forage?

    Is there enough difference to warrant purchasing Haybet when a grower has Piroline in the bin. I could not find any tables or charts with Piroline in them. Is it a hay barley? What does it compare to?

    Long version/short answer: Small grains are really catching on for annual forages. In the eastern districts of Montana, Haybet was the leading barley variety in 1999. There are several varieties of barley that are "hooded awnless", and there are "awnletted" (awnless or reduced-awn) varieties of wheat, spelt or triticale. These were developed to eliminate feeding problems like lumpjaw on dry hay of these cereal crops. Any awned cereal crop can be used for forage if it is put up as haylage, "baleage", or dry hay that is ground before feeding. Historically, these methods are limited in Montana, so awnless varieties were developed.

    The limited efforts at MAES have been to release and evaluate new hay types with good forage yields. There has never been a big pot of money for developing hay varieties, and certainly less to evaluate every small grain variety for forage yield. Many malt, feed or commodity grain crops will produce acceptable hay yields. However, to completely avoid the awn problem, conventional small grains should be cut during heading. (Note: now you have created a potential nitrate toxicity problem).

    I found no data, but hay yields of Piroline, Haybet, Westford or any other hay barley variety at the clear to milk dough stage might only vary from 0 to 10%.

    However, Pirloline at heading (to avoid awn problem) would have 60 to 80% of the hay yield of Haybet or Westford at the clear to milk dough stage.

    In a 2-ton per acre site, a 25% loss in hay production @ $50 per ton hay =$25 per acre loss.

    At a 3-ton per acre site, a 30% loss in hay production @ $60 per ton hay = $54 per acre loss. Bin-run seed of Piroline is certainly cheaper, but be sure to consider all the consequences. Seed of Haybet and Westford might be considered "expensive", and this is due to several reasons - they are not notorious for high grain production, the market and supply were limited in the past, and also these are commonly treated with fungicides to reduce potential pathogens.

  • Interseeding Grasses into Legumes Like Alfalfa

    By Jim Bauder and Dennis Cash

    What kind of success can be expected by seeding or reseeding brome grass into a one-year old stand of alfalfa?

    A producer sent a note along indicating that he had seeded a 50-50 mixture of alfalfa and brome grass last year. The alfalfa established but the brome did not. He was now considering interseeding the one-year old alfalfa stand with brome and wanted to know if there was an allelopathic effect of the alfalfa that would hinder establishment of the brome.

    Generally the difficulty or problem with mixed stands is the difference in dominance and performance of one species over another. In the case of an alfalfa-brome stand, one problem is the fertility requirements. Fertilizing for brome will result in the alfalfa essentially becoming 'lazy' and rather than fixing nitrogen using the nitrogen applied for the brome. On the other hand, if you don't fertilize for the brome, the alfalfa will eventually dominate the stand. The advantage of the mixed stand is that the two crops have different water and heat requirements and performance characteristics during the growing season - and you have a crop of mixed composition.

    So, what about seeding the brome in the winter/early spring when the ground is still frozen and/or there is snow on the ground. One option would be to broadcast the seed on the snow. The other would be to frost seed into frozen ground. With regard to seeding brome while there is still snow and the ground is still cold: this practice should give the brome a chance to germinate and become established. Some researchers have had some success interplanting alfalfa in existing alfalfa, using disk openers. Similarly, we have seen some responses in established stands of alfalfa when disturbed/ conditioned by tillage. However, this applies mostly to established, sod bound stands. In a relatively young, one year old alfalfa stand, planting the brome with a shovel or sweep opener is likely to do significant damage to the alfalfa stand.

    With regard to the allelopathy effects, alfalfa has an allelopathic characteristic, but this seems to be most expressed in alfalfa-to-alfalfa, i.e., seeding alfalfa directly back into alfalfa residue or interseeding alfalfa in an existing stand of alfalfa. It's not likely that alfalfa will exhibit an allelopathic effect on the brome grass seedlings. Also, it is not likely that the alfalfa stand, being only one year old, will have established a significant biochemical residue in the soil to cause the alfalfa to be toxic to brome.

  • Methods for Sod-Seeding of Small-Seeded Legumes and Grasses
  • Native Plants Scrutinized for Western Ranges
  • Establishing and Managing Improved Pastures
  • Nitrates in Cereal Forages

    Nitrates are highest in the early part of the day. If you sample cereal forages in the hot part of the day, nitrate content will be at its lowest point for that particular day. Remember, if you sample in the heat of the day and the nitrate content is acceptable when tested, it is important to cut the forage in the hot part of the day.

    When sampling a field, it is important to take a walk through the field and get a good, representative sample. One or two plants from one corner of the field will not tell you much about the nitrate content of that field. The variability in nitrate levels can be huge even within a small area of a field. If we end up sending the sample to a lab for analysis, the sample should be large enough to at least fill a bread sack. Enough to fill a plastic grocery bag is even better. Cut the plants you are sampling just above the ground level. Do not bring the roots and soil as part of your sample. Nitrates tend to show up best in the stem joints or nodes, especially the lower joints.

    The field test that is done with the sulfuric acid solution is only a "yes" or "no" indicator about the presence of nitrate. It is not a quantitative measure of nitrate content! If the field test is positive and you want to know the nitrate content, the only way to know that content is to send a representative sample to a laboratory for analysis. 4). The field test for nitrates can be done at six different locations in Fergus County: Farmer’s Co-Op Elevator in Denton; Garneill Seed Plant; Central Feed or Harvest States in Lewistown; Farmer’s Oil in Moore; and Harvest States in Winifred.

    A final word of caution - Do not try to interpret the nitrate content by the color change you see with the field test. If the sample changes color when the sulfuric acid solution is applied, there is nitrate present. We cannot make a judgment, based on the color change, about the quantity of nitrate present.

  • Evaluation of nitrogen fertilizer rate on spring cereal forage yield and nitrate content
  • What The Analysis Means - The best hay or silage evaluation
  • Growing Alfalfa for Hay