Buckeye Dairy News: VOLUME 22, ISSUE 4

  1. Milk Prices, Costs of Nutrients, Margins and Comparison of Feedstuffs Prices

    April Frye White, Graduate Research Associate, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Milk prices

    In the last issue, the Class III futures for May and June were at $12.22 and $17.52/cwt, respectively. The Class III component price for May closed just slightly lower than predicted at $12.14/cwt but closed $9/cwt higher in June at $21.04/cwt. The Federal milk order price for protein in June was $4.53/lb, leading to a higher Class III milk price. The Class III future for July is nearly double that of May at $24.23/cwt, followed by $22.84/cwt in August.

    Nutrient prices

    When comparing the prices in Table 1 to the 5-year averages, the current prices of nutrients are good. The price of NEL is about 40% lower than the 5 yr. average ($0.08/Mcal). However, the price of MP and eNDF are about 1 and 64% higher compared to the 5-year averages ($0.42/lb and $0.08/lb, respectively). The price of MP is about 8% lower than May ($0.47/lb), but the price of NEL and eNDF are both 14% and 8% higher than the last issue ($0.04/Mcal and $0.12/lb, respectively). Feed prices are shown in Table 2.

    To estimate profitability at these nutrient prices, the Cow-Jones Index was used for average US cows weighing 1500 lb and producing milk with 3.9% fat and 3.2% protein. For July’s issue, the income over nutrient cost (IONC) for cows milking 70 and 85 lb/day is about $15.97 and $16.39/cwt, respectively. This is more than double the estimates from May ($7.13 and $7.56/cwt, respectively). The current IONC is likely to be profitable for Ohio dairy farmers and are reflective of the current high price for milk protein. As a word of caution, these estimates of IONC do not account for the cost of replacements or dry cows, for profitability changes related to culling cows, and the actual mailbox milk price received by dairy producers. Continued lower feed prices may provide some opportunity to recover from recent months.

    Table 1. Prices of dairy nutrients for Ohio dairy farms, July 23, 2020.

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    Economic Value of Feeds

    Results of the Sesame analysis for central Ohio on July 23, 2020 are presented in Table 2. Detailed results for all 26 feed commodities are reported. The lower and upper limits mark the 75% confidence range for the predicted (break-even) prices. Feeds in the “Appraisal Set” were those for which we didn’t have a price or were adjusted to reflect their true (“Corrected”) value in a lactating diet. One must remember that SESAME™ compares all commodities at one specific point in time. Thus, the results do not imply that the bargain feeds are cheap on a historical basis.

    Table 2. Actual, breakeven (predicted) and 75% confidence limits of 26 feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms, July 23, 2020.
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    For convenience, Table 3 summarizes the economic classification of feeds according to their outcome in the SESAME™ analysis. Feedstuffs that have gone up in price based on current nutrient values or in other words moved a column to the right since the last issue are red. Conversely, feedstuffs that have moved to the left (i.e., decreased in value) are green. These shifts (i.e., feeds moving columns to the left or right) in price are only temporary changes relative to other feedstuffs within the last two months and do not reflect historical prices.

    Table 3. Partitioning of feedstuffs in Ohio, July 23, 2020.

    Bargains At Breakeven Overpriced
    Corn, ground, dry Whole cottonseed Mechanically extracted canola meal
    Corn silage Bakery byproducts 41% Cottonseed meal
    Distillers dried grains Wheat bran Fish meal
    Feather meal 48% Soybean meal Beet pulp
    Gluten feed Gluten meal Molasses
    Hominy Alfalfa hay - 40% NDF Solvent extracted canola meal
    Meat meal Blood meal 44% Soybean meal
    Wheat middlings Soybean hulls Tallow
    Soybean meal - expeller   Whole, roasted soybeans

    As coined by Dr. St-Pierre, I must remind the readers that these results do not mean that you can formulate a balanced diet using only feeds in the “bargains” column. Feeds in the “bargains” column offer a savings opportunity, and their usage should be maximized within the limits of a properly balanced diet. In addition, prices within a commodity type can vary considerably because of quality differences as well as non-nutritional value added by some suppliers in the form of nutritional services, blending, terms of credit, etc. Also, there are reasons that a feed might be a very good fit in your feeding program while not appearing in the “bargains” column. For example, your nutritionist might be using some molasses in your rations for reasons other than its NEL and MP contents.


    For those of you who use the 5-nutrient group values (i.e., replace metabolizable protein by rumen degradable protein and digestible rumen undegradable protein), see the Table 4 below.

    Table 4. Prices of dairy nutrients using the 5-nutrient solution for Ohio dairy farms, July 23, 2020.
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  2. Record Negative Producer Price Differential Slams June Milk Checks, Why and How?

    Dianne Shoemaker, Farm Management Specialist, Ohio State University Extension

    Helped by Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) legislated for the Food Box Assistance program dairy purchases, Class III prices made an amazing recovery in June, rising from May’s bitterly low $12.14/ cwt to the $21.04/cwt announced by the Milk Market Administrator on July 1, 2020 (Figure 1). The possibility of additional cash flow at the farm level quickly evaporated as the specter of a record negative producer price differential (PPD) surfaced.

    Unfortunately, the June final milk check revealed a record-high negative $7.05 PPD for Federal Order 33, reflecting brutal, unintended consequences of a Federal Milk Marketing Order rule change. A change in how Class I price is calculated went into effect in 2019, driven by organizations representing processors and cooperatives and included in the 2018 Farm Bill. Unfortunately, bad things happen when there is a large spread between Class III and Class IV prices and prices rise rapidly. And it just did.

    Figure 1: Class III price, July 2019 through June 2020, $ per cwt.

    Negative Producer Price Differential (PPD)

    Our Federal Order 33 is a component-based system, as are 6 other of the 11 Federal Orders.  Class I (fluid or bottled) milk is usually the highest value milk in this system and that price is set off of the Class III and IV prices which are usually lower (Figure 2).  In this “normal” scenario, the price farmers receive for their milk is the Class III price plus a share of the higher value of Class I milk pooled in the Federal Order (represented by the PPD) if their cooperative or processor participates in the Federal Order system.  So typically, the Class I price is higher than the Class III price, the PPD is positive, and this adds dollars to the milk check.   

    Figure 2: Class prices, FMMO 33, January through May 2020, $ per cwt.

    Every dairy farmer knows that sometimes the PPD has “gone negative”, and in spite of efforts to tweak pricing rules, it still happens. Negative PPD surfaced most recently in 2019, with negative PPD from September through December ranging from ($0.31) in September to ($2.44/cwt) in November. 

    June’s Class III price announced at $21.04/cwt was a welcome and dramatic increase from May’s dismal $12.14/cwt.  At the same time, the Class IV price only increased from $10.67 to 12.90/cwt (Figure 3).  Class III and IV milk prices are used to calculate the Class I price.  Before the rule change, Class I was calculated using the higher of Class III or IV prices.  Now it is calculated using the average of Class III and Class IV prices plus 74 cents (the historical difference between the two prices).  Because of the change, Class III milk has a higher value than the Class I price for June, resulting in a negative PPD.

    Figure 3: Class prices, FMMO 33, January through June 2020, $ per cwt.

    How low could it go?

    Before the June PPD was announced on July 13th, what we did not know was how negative it would be. The unknown factor was how much Class III milk, normally pooled in the Federal order, would be depooled? The higher the amount of milk depooled, the higher the negative PPD would be. So, what does this mean?  The federal order system is complicated with an extensive set of rules. Let’s take a simplified look at how it works:

    Class I milk, or milk that goes into a jug for fluid consumption, has to be “pooled” on the Federal order.  In other words, if a processor bottles milk, which is usually the highest value milk in our pricing system, they pay the difference in value between Class I and Class III into the Federal order pool each month.  At the end of the month, an accounting is made of how many pounds of milk were pooled in the Federal order for the given month and how much was utilized as Class I, II, III, or IV (Figure 4).  Based on dollars paid in and how many pounds were pooled, the PPD is announced.  In theory, this shares the higher value of fluid milk  with all participating farms, regardless of whether they have the opportunity to ship to a fluid milk processor, or their milk is going into cheese, butter, or some other manufactured product.

    Figure 4: Milk utilization by class and total pounds of milk pooled in FMMO 33, January through May 2020.

    While Class I processors have to participate in the Federal order system, Class III processors do not. They usually do because it allows them to pay more than the typically lower Class III price to their farmers in the form of the Class III price plus the producer price differential. 

    Class III worth more than Class I

    However, when the Class III price is higher than the Class I price, the Class III processors are now in the position of having to pay into the Federal order. They can choose to pool fewer pounds of milk than they have normally pooled in the Federal order to minimize the dollars they would have to pay in. This is termed “depooling”. When this happens, there is not a pool of dollars reflecting the highest value of milk, and the PPD becomes negative, reflecting the value and use of the milk that was pooled on the Federal order.

    In June, Class I milk was worth $13.42/cwt, while Class III hit $21.04/cwt. The final accounting was brutal for dairy farmers, with 429.5 million pounds less Class III milk pooled in June than the average Class III pounds pooled January through May in FMMO 33.This dropped Class III utilization from an average of 32% for the first 5 months to 9.8% in June (Figure 5).  

    Figure 5: Milk utilization by class and total pounds of milk pooled in FMMO 33, January through June 2020.

    The FMMO 33 Class I price for July is above $18/cwt but will still likely be lower than the July Class III price.  It is anticipated that we are in for several more months of negative PPD. 

    Additional resources

    This is a very basic look at what happened.  Two dairy market experts, Mark Stephenson, University of Wisconsin, and Andrew Novakovic, Cornell University, did an excellent job putting together a very readable paper “Making Sense of Your Milk Price in the Pandemic Economy: Negative PPD, Depooling, and Reblending”,  which addresses additional issues not included here.  This paper is worth reading and can be download from: https://dairymarkets.org/PubPod/Pubs/IL20-03.pdf

  3. August 28 Deadline for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program is Fast Approaching

    Dianne Shoemaker, Extension Farm Management Specialist, Ohio State University Extension       

    2020 has not turned out as anyone expected, and the dairy industry received no exceptions. Good milk prices quickly reversed course, and what seemed to be improving prices did not materialize in on-farm milk checks. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) was developed to provide farms that have been buffeted by these unforeseen, uncontrollable, and on-going circumstances some cash flow assistance.

    The intent of this program is to directly assist farms impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.  Sign-up began at your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office on Tuesday, May 26 and continues through August 28, 2020.  FSA offices currently work with clients via email, fax, and phone by appointment. 

    The major assistance available to dairy farms is based on milk sold (or documented as dumped at the direction of the cooperative or processor) in January, February, and March.  Additional assistance is available based on cull cows and younger animals sold for beef between January 15 and April 15.  Farms can choose for which categories they would like to apply.

    FSA especially welcomes farms who may not have participated in a program before to learn more about and apply for this program designed to support US food production.  More information about the program can be found here: https://www.farmers.gov/cfap, including an on-line application as well as a link to find your local county FSA office.

    More detailed information about how the CFAP program works for dairy farms can be found in the previous issue of Buckeye Dairy News here: https://dairy.osu.edu/newsletter/buckeye-dairy-news/volume-22-issue-3/economic-assistance-available-dairy-farms

  4. Late Summer Establishment of Perennial Forages

    Dr. Mark Sulc, Professor and Extension Forage Specialist, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and Mr. Rory Lewandowski , Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator, Wayne County, The Ohio State University Extension

    The month of August provides the second window of opportunity for establishing perennial forage stands this year. The primary risk with late summer forage seedings is having sufficient moisture for seed germination and plant establishment, which is a significant risk this summer given the low soil moisture status across many areas.

    The decision to plant or not will have to be made for each individual field, considering soil moisture and the rain forecast. Rainfall/soil moisture in the few weeks immediately after seeding is the primary factor affecting successful establishment.

    No-till seeding in August is an excellent choice to conserve soil moisture for good germination. Make sure that the field surface is relatively level and smooth if you plan to no-till seed because you will have to live with any field roughness for several years of harvesting operations.

    Sclerotinia crown and stem rot is a concern with no-till seedings of alfalfa in late summer and especially where clover has been present in the past. This pathogen causes white mold on alfalfa seedlings and infects plants during cooler rainy spells in late October and November. Early August plantings dramatically improve the alfalfa's ability to resist the infection. Late August seedings are very susceptible to this disease, with mid-August plantings being intermediate.

    In a no-till situation, minimize competition from existing weeds by applying a glyphosate burndown before planting. Using no-till when herbicide-resistant weeds are present, such as marestail, creates a very difficult situation with no effective control options, so tillage is probably a better choice in those situations.  

    Post-emergence herbicide options exist for alfalfa to control late summer and fall emerging winter annual broadleaf weeds. A mid- to late fall application of Butyrac (2,4-DB), bromoxynil, Pursuit or Raptor are the primary herbicide options for winter annual broadleaf weeds. Fall application is much more effective than a spring application for control of these weeds, especially if wild radish/wild turnip are in the weed mix.  Pursuit and Raptor can control winter annual grasses in the fall in pure legume stands but not in a mixed alfalfa/grass planting. Consult the 2020 Ohio, Indiana, Illinois Weed Control Guide and always read the specific product label for guidelines on timing and rates before applying any product.

    For conventional tillage seeding, prepare a firm seedbed to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Be aware that too much tillage depletes soil moisture and increases the risk of soil crusting. Follow the "footprint guide" that soil should be firm enough for a footprint to sink no deeper than one-half inch.  Tilled seedbeds do not need a pre-plant herbicide. 

    Finally, keep in mind the following factors to increase establishment success:

    • Soil fertility and pH: The recommended soil pH for alfalfa is 6.5 to 6.8. Forage grasses and clovers should have a pH of 6.0 or above. The minimum or critical soil phosphorus level for forage legumes is 30 ppm Mehlich-3 and for grasses 20 ppm Mehlich-3. The critical soil potassium level is 120 ppm for most of our soils.
    • Check herbicide history of field. A summary table of herbicide rotation intervals for alfalfa and clovers is available at  http://go.osu.edu/herbrotationintervals.  Forage grasses are not included in that table, so check the labels of any herbicides applied to the field in the last 2 years for any restrictions that might exist.
    • Seed selection: Be sure to use high quality seed of adapted varieties and use fresh inoculum of the proper Rhizobium bacteria for legume seeds. “Common” seed (variety not stated) is usually lower yielding and not as persistent, and from our trials, the savings in seed cost is lost within the first year or two through lower forage yields.
    • Planting date: Planting of alfalfa and other legumes should be completed between late July and mid-August in Northern Ohio and between early and late August in Southern Ohio. Most cool-season perennial grasses can be planted a little later. Check the Ohio Agronomy Guide for specific guidelines (see http://go.osu.edu/forage-seeding-dates).
    • Planter calibration: If coated seed is used, be aware that coatings can account for up to one-third of the weight of the seed. This affects the number of seeds planted in planters set to plant seed on a weight basis. Seed coatings can also dramatically alter how the seed flows through the drill, so calibrate the drill or planter with the seed being planted.
    • Seed placement: The recommended seeding depth for forages is one-quarter to one-half inch deep. It is better to err on the side of planting shallow rather than too deep.

    Do not harvest a new perennial forage stand this fall. The ONLY exception to this rule is perennial and Italian ryegrass plantings.  Mow or harvest those grasses to a two and a half to three-inch stubble in late November to improve winter survival.  Do not cut any other species in the fall, especially legumes.

  5. Short-Season Forages for Late Summer Planting on Dairy Farms

    Dr. Mark Sulc, Professor and Extension Forage Specialist, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and Dr. Bill Weiss, Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Short-season forages planted in late summer can be sources of highly digestible fiber in dairy rations.There are several excellent forage options that can be considered for no-till or conventional tillage plantings in the late summer or early fall planting window. These forages can be a planned component of the overall forage production plan. They can be utilized on land that would otherwise sit idle until next spring, such as following wheat or an early corn silage harvest.

    Oat or Spring Triticale Silage

    These cereal forages can be planted for silage beginning the last week of July and into early September. Dry matter yields of 1.5 to 3 tons per acre (about 5 to 5.5 tons at 30 to 35% DM) of chopped silage are possible if planted in late July to early August. Harvesting between late boot, or early heading, will optimize quality. Yields will be lower for plantings made in early September, in which case late autumn grazing would be a more viable option.

    Potential feed value of oat silage can be similar to mid-bloom alfalfa. As a grass, maximum inclusion rates in a lactating cow diet are less than those for alfalfa, but it is a very acceptable feed.

    Spring triticale is biotype of the hybrid cross between cereal rye and wheat (there is also a winter biotype that acts like winter wheat). In our research, oat averaged slightly higher fall yields than spring triticale, but this varied across years. If cut at the proper maturity, spring triticale forage has a higher feed value than oat, similar to early-bloom alfalfa. Seed cost for spring triticale is usually higher than oat, but it is later maturing than oat or barley and will maintain its forage quality for an extended harvest window.

    About 50 lb/acre of nitrogen will be needed to optimize yield potential of these cereal forages following wheat. Following corn silage harvest and especially if manure is applied before planting the short-season forage, there likely will be no need for additional nitrogen application.

    Check herbicide rotation restrictions from the previously planted crop. Other potential challenges include rust infection, especially with oat. Rust could impact yield and feed quality and depends on when the infection of rust occurs during the growing season.

    Oat or Spring Triticale and Winter Cereal Mixed Silage

    Planting mixtures of oat or spring triticale with cereal rye, winter wheat, or winter triticale will allow a fall harvest or grazing as well as a harvest or grazing of the winter cereal next spring. Keep in mind that the window for harvesting rye silage in the spring to obtain dairy-quality forage is usually very early and very short. Winter wheat and winter triticale mature later and more slowly in the spring than winter rye. Forage yields in the spring will be 2.5 to 3 tons/acre of DM of dairy-quality forage when harvested in boot stage.  In the fall, the oat/winter cereal or spring triticale/winter cereal mix should yield slightly more than oat or spring triticale alone, with the potential for the spring cereal harvest. Corn silage can be planted after the winter cereal harvest in the spring.

    Italian Ryegrass Silage

    This grass emerges as fast as oats and could produce up to a ton of dry matter per acre in the fall if planted in August, and less yield if planted into September (it should be planted by mid-September at the latest). This crop would also be available for additional cuttings next year, starting in late April or early May and then every 25-30 days into June or early July.   

    In our research, a fall harvest and 3 additional harvests the following year have shown total yields between 3 to 5 tons of dry matter across all the harvests, when improved varieties of Italian ryegrass are planted and winter survival is good. Italian ryegrass can winterkill in severe winters. It is important to not allow a lot of growth going into the winter to avoid mold growth that damages the stand. To avoid this, make a late fall cutting or graze to a height of 3 inches late in the year.  This crop will shut down by mid- to late-summer the year after a fall establishment. It would fit best in a rotation with sorghum-sudangrass or forage sorghum planted in early July. 

    Harvesting Italian ryegrass before heading optimizes quality, as with all grasses.  When planted in September and harvested in late fall, the quality will be superb (NDF around 48% and NDF digestibility about 80%).  August plantings harvested in late fall will be slightly lower in quality with crude protein in the mid-teens and NDF in the mid-50s.  Next year, the crop will head out quickly at each harvest, and will be a medium quality forage. But with proper diet formulation, it can be used in lactating cow rations.


    Utilizing short-season forages can provide excellent quality forage on dairy farms to supplement corn silage and perennial forages, while also increasing land use efficiency. Maintaining forage cover year-round protects the soil from erosion and contributes to building soil organic matter over the long-term.

  6. Harvest Management of Sorghum Forages

    Dr. Mark Sulc, Professor and Extension Forage Specialist, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and Dr. Bill Weiss, Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Summer annual grasses, such as sudangrass, sorghum-sudangrass, forage sorghum, pearl millet, and teff grass, are being used as additional sources of forage on dairy farms. This article discusses harvest and grazing management of these grasses.

    The general guidelines for harvesting or grazing these summer annual grasses as listed in the Ohio Agronomy Guide are shown in Table 7-12.

    Table 7-12: Harvest Information for Summer-Annual Grasses.

    We planted a trial on July 19, 2013 near South Charleston, OH to evaluate the yield and fiber quality of a conventional sudangrass variety (hereafter designated “Normal”) and a sorghum-sudangrass hybrid carrying the BMR-6 gene for reduced lignin (hereafter designated “BMR”). Forage yield, neutral detergent fiber (NDF) concentration, and NDF digestibility (NDFD) were measured on 4 dates after planting, with the forage being cut to a 4-inch stubble height at each harvest. The NDFD was measured after 30-hours of in vitro fermentation in rumen fluid plus buffer, followed by removal of microbial contaminants with neutral detergent solution.

    The results were not surprising in that yield and NDF increased while NDFD decreased sharply as the plants grew and matured (see figures below). The varieties were similar in yield and NDF, but there was a distinct NDFD advantage for the BMR hybrid over the non-BMR sudangrass variety (“Normal”).  

    In general, diets can be formulated for different classes of livestock based on the fiber quality of the forage. For lactating cows using these forages, the amount of forage that can be fed will be limited by the NDF level. For example, if harvest was delayed in order to obtain highest forage yield, the NDF level was near 70%. At 70% NDF, the forage would probably have to be limited to 10% of the total diet of lactating dairy cows, on a dry matter basis.

    For lactating cows, forage with NDFD levels of 50% are usually acceptable, and levels as low as 40% NDFD could probably work if necessary. However, higher producing herds or groups within herds are more sensitive to NDFD and require NDFD values greater than 50%. Based on these parameters, the “Normal” sorghum-sudangrass provided acceptable forage for lactating cow diets when harvested between 40 to 60 days after planting (30 to 50 inches tall). Heifer diets could utilize this forage harvested at about 60 days (50 inches tall).

    The BMR hybrid provided a longer window of acceptable forage for dairy cows. In this study, the forage could have been harvested almost 80 days after planting (67 inches tall) and still be acceptable in a lactating or heifer diet. This provides opportunity for significantly greater forage yields.

    Dry matter yield and total fiber (NDF) and 30-hour fiber digestibility (NDFD) of two
    varieties of summer annual grasses planted on July 19, 2013 near South Charleston, OH.

    Forage having NDFD levels as low as 35 to 40% with high NDF levels are acceptable for dry cows or beef cattle provided they are part of a balanced diet and their mineral concentrations are not excessive relative to requirements. Based on the results shown above, the forage harvested from 60 to 80 days after planting (50 to 67 inches tall) would have been acceptable for dry cows or beef cattle.

    The results from the experiment shown here agree with a study conducted by researchers at Cornell University (Kilcer et al., 2005), who concluded that BMR sorghum-sudangrass has a larger harvest window for producing forage for lactating cows. However, they recommended that BMR sorghum-sudangrass be harvested for lactating cows when stand heights are about 50 inches (2-cuts possible with early June planting) because this will occur before the shift from vegetative to reproductive growth that lowers quality, and earlier harvest reduces the amount of water that must be evaporated for ensiling as yields increase. The Cornell researchers stated that if planting were to be delayed into July, a second harvest may not be feasible, and delaying harvest to heights greater than 50 inches might be advantageous if extra forage is needed on the farm and good drying conditions exist to get rid of the extra moisture.

    In our study, we also investigated whether a 2-harvest system could provide similar forage yields with higher forage nutritive value compared with a single harvest after a mid-July planting date. The only combination of harvest dates that provided reasonable forage yields occurred when the first harvest was made at 35-days after planting with an 8-inch stubble height (to encourage faster regrowth) and the second harvest was made at a 4-inch stubble 48 days later (83 days after planting). That 2-harvest combination produced a total dry matter yield of 3813 lb/acre for the BMR and 4870 lb/acre for the normal variety, with an average of 65% NDF for both varieties and 48% NDFD for the BMR and 45% NDFD for the normal variety. Therefore, we concluded the 2-harvest system showed no significant advantage over harvesting once at 60 days when plantings are made in mid-July.

    In summary,  non-BMR sudangrass and sorghum-sudangrass planted in mid-July should be harvested between 40 to 60 days (30 to 50 inches tall) for lactating dairy cows. Harvesting should occur about 60 days after planting (50 inches tall) for feeding heifers and 60 to 80 days after planting (50 to 67 inches tall) for beef cattle or dry cows. The BMR hybrid provided a wider harvest window for lactating cows, with acceptable forage harvested nearly 80 days after planting.

    Keep in mind that the sorghum grasses should be harvested or grazed prior to a frost, because toxic levels of prussic acid can be produced in the forage after a frost. Details of this risk are available at https://forages.osu.edu/news/be-alert-late-season-potential-forage-toxicities.  


    Kilcer, T.F., Q.M. Ketterings, J.H. Cherney, P. Cerosaletti, and P. Barney. 2005. Optimum stand height for forage brown midrib sorghum x sudangrass in North-eastern USA. J. Agronomy & Crop Science 191:45-40.


  7. Oats as a Late Summer Forage Crop

    Jason Hartschuh, Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Crawford County; Al Gahler, Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Sandusky County; and Dr. Bill Weiss, Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Oats is traditionally planted as the first crop in early April as a grain crop or an early season forage. One of the beauties of oats is its versatility in planting date. Oats can also be planted in the summer as an early fall forage for harvest or grazing.

    Summer oats has a wide planting window but performs much better with an application of nitrogen and may benefit from a fungicide application to improve quality. During the summer of 2019, we conducted a study to examine the planting of oats from July 15 through early September to examine tonnage and forage quality. Through this trial, we examined planting date, yield, forage quality and an application of foliar fungicide to control oats crown rust.

    Usually the best scenario for growing oats for forage is to plant them into wheat stubble, which is normally available by mid-July at the latest.  However, The typical recommendation is to plant oats between August 1 and 10 to maximize tonnage and quality, since the shorter day length triggers oats to grow more leaf instead of producing seed, but if planted too late in the year, there is not enough time for growth. The oats in this study were harvested between 60 and 75 days after planting, with full head emergence. Figure 1 shows how yield changed based on plating date and nitrogen rate. Similar to previous studies, applying 46 lb/acre of nitrogen significantly increased yield on all planting dates, but applying 92 lb/acre only increased yield during the late July planting. The July planting date did not receive rain for 8 days then received about 1.5 inches, possibly leading to a loss of nitrogen. Adding this study to others, the recommended nitrogen rate for summer oat forage is to apply 50 lb/acre of nitrogen at planting. When planted in early September, yields fall to an average of a half-ton per acre, making it less economical to mechanically harvest as stored forage and more economical to graze.     

    Figure 1. Oats yield based on planting date and nitrogen application (lb/acre).

    Not only does nitrogen rate affect yield but also the feed value of the oats. In 2019, the oats were severely infected with crown rust. Fungicide was sprayed on the plots based on recommendations in the 29th issue of the 2019 C.O.R.N newsletter. The fungicide application significantly reduced the presence of rust. Without a fungicide application, over 50% of the leaf was coved by rust, while the fungicide application prevented the severe outbreak and decreased the rust content to less than 1% coverage on average. Figures 2 and 3 show the crude protein (CP) and total digestible nutrients (TDN) over the 4 planting dates across 3 rates of nitrogen with and without fungicide. Fungicide application had no effect on yield but did affect forage quality. The application of nitrogen increased forage quality but only the mid-August planting resulted in a difference between 46 and 92 lb/acre of nitrogen for both CP and TDN. The application of fungicide improved oats digestibility, increasing protein by 1 to 2% and TDN by 5 points. A consistent increase in energy concentration occurred over all treatments based on planting date. Crude protein averaged around 14% when nitrogen was applied but only 10% without nitrogen. TDN had an average of 57% with a nitrogen application and 40% without the nitrogen application.  

    Figures 2 and 3. Concentrations of crude protein and total digestible nutrients (TDN) in oats with different planting dates and nitrogen applications (T = fungicide treatment, U = no fungicide treatment).

    Based on previous trials, we recommend seeding oats at 2 to 3 bushels per acre and applying 50 lb/acre of nitrogen at planting.  With most seed oats or triple cleaned feed oats commonly used for fall forage, test weight is normally much higher than the standard 32 lb, so a more accurate assessment for planting rate may be to seed 80 to 100 lb/acre, regardless of the source. The oats should be planted into moisture up to 1.5 inches deep if needed. No-till planting is the ideal seeding method, but shallow conventional tillage may be required to incorporate nitrogen, assist with weed control, and improve seed to soil contact if drills are not closing the seed slot. Just keep in mind that if mechanical harvest is the intention, loose soils from conventional tillage may contribute to significant soil in the harvested crop, leading to higher ash content in the feed.  If weeds are present, a chemical application of Glyphosate plus 2,4-D can be used to clean fields up before planting or before oats have emerged. When harvested as a stored forage, oats often need harvested as silage or baleage. If weather allows for dry harvest, the oats usually need tedded multiple times, and in late September or October, 6 or more days of drying may be required.   

    Oats make an excellent double crop after wheat. When planted between mid-July and mid-August and fertilized with at least 46 lb/acre of nitrogen, average yields are in the range of 1 to 1.5 tons/acre of dry matter, and with ideal conditions, 3 or more tons/acre are very possible. The nutritional value of oats without fertilizer is about $250/ton of dry matter, and when fertilized, the value increases to about $280/ton. Oats make an excellent forage for dairy heifers, dry cows and when made early, even milking cows. Planting after wheat harvest provides forage and increases farm profitability, with return on investment rivaling and often surpassing the potential for double crop soybeans.    

  8. Rory Lewandowski Retirement

    Chris Zoller, Agricultural Extension Educator, Tuscarawas County, Ohio State University Extension  

    Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Wayne County, is retiring from Ohio State University Extension on July 29, 2020.  Rory has served agricultural clientele in Guernsey, Noble,  Athens, and Wayne Counties during his 23 years with Ohio State University Extension.

    As an Extension Educator and Certified Crop Advisor (CCA), Rory focused much of his teaching on forages, pesticide use, nutrient management, and farm financial management.  Rory worked tirelessly to serve the needs of his clientele.  Farmers locally and across Ohio benefitted from his knowledge and expertise.  His ability to make every lesson unique and meet the needs of his audience is commendable.     

    Rory was a member of the Ohio Joint Council of Extension Professionals, National Association of County Agricultural Agents, Epsilon Sigma Phi National Extension Fraternity, Ohio Sheep Industry Association, and Ohio Cattleman’s Association.  Rory was recognized with numerous awards for his exemplary teaching, research, and service, including the Steven D. Ruhl Award for Outstanding Teaching, Leadership, and Service from Ohio State University Extension; Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents; Mid-Career Award from Epsilon Sigma Phi; and the Ohio Sheep Industry Distinguished Service Award.  In addition, Rory was recognized by professional associations for his outstanding teaching, winning 11 awards.

    Rory and his wife Marcia have accepted a three-year assignment in Cambodia with the Mennonite Central Committee.  They will focus on peace and justice as they help people learn to work out their differences as opposed to resorting to violence.  This is not their first experience with the Mennonite Central Committee, having served in Bolivia from 1989 – 1992 and 1996-2000.

    Those of us who have had the pleasure of working with Rory are better because of his teaching, leadership, and friendship.  His efforts have made an impact on the communities he has served, and he will carry his style of servant leadership into retirement. 

    In keeping with Rory’s wishes, an in-person gathering will not be held.  However, anyone interested in sharing memories, pictures, stories or well wishes may do so by clicking on this link: https://www.kudoboard.com/boards/yIDiZU6S 

    We wish Rory the best in his retirement!