UT Beef and Forage Center

Forage Management and Production- Article

Gary BatesDr. Gary Bates, Professor and Director, UT Beef and Forage Center    

(865) 974-7324

gbates@utk.edu

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If you have read my articles for very long, you realize that my family provides a lot of inspiration for my articles. Whether it is talking about my in-laws, something Jed and I have experienced, or just raising kids, I rarely lack for something on which to base a good article.  But the other day my youngest daughter asked why I hadn’t ever written an article specifically about her.  I should have answered that she hasn’t caused me problems like her brother has, so I haven’t had to struggle with issues with her. But I didn’t think about that at the time, so now I am going to have to figure out what to write.

I started thinking about how she probably felt a little left out because I wrote more about Jed, and that maybe I don’t think about her as much as her brother. That is not true, but maybe I have to evaluate whether I have overlooked her from time to time.  I would say no, but her reaction says something different. 

It is very easy to get distracted and overlook some of the simple things. Maybe I haven’t paid enough attention in past articles to my daughter, so now I am in the hot seat, trying to make up for it.

I bet there are many things around your operation that might have the same problem.  They are things that are on your mind, but maybe overlooked. At some point it causes a problem and you are trying to catch up. Don’t believe me?  Let me give you a couple of examples to see if you have this problem.

Does buttercup cause you to have yellow pastures?  If this weed is not controlled, it can cause your pastures to be almost completely yellow in spring.  It is easy to kill, but if you overlook it, yellow is coming.  Now is the time to scout your grass pastures and hayfields for the presences of buttercup.  If you find it, spray 2 pints per acre of 2,4-D sometime between now and late March.  You need to spray after you have had 3 days of warm (about 60 degrees) weather.

What is your soil pH?  In the Southeast, soils tend to be slightly acidic.  As soils get more acidic, root growth can be limited and nutrients such as phosphate and potash become less available to plants.  It is relatively simple to keep your pH above 6.0 by adding agricultural lime.  But you won’t know how much or how often to add without taking a soil test. Do this about every three years and you can track your soil pH and nutrient levels.  This will allow you to add lime and fertilizer to meet the needs of your plants.

These are two very simple things that are important for your production program, but are often overlooked.  Now is the time to scout for buttercup and take soil tests.  You go do that - I’m going to go grab my phone. My oldest daughter will be calling soon, wondering where her article is.