To Plant or Not To Plant Winter Forage in Jefferson County
Extension Agent - Livestock
Issue/Alert Affecting Crop: Jefferson County growers like to have winter grazing ready by Thanksgiving and IFAS recommendations include oats planting as early as September 15. Rye planting is recommended as late as November 15. With October’s cumulative rainfall at the Monticello FAWN site (http://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/) of 0.3 inches, producers have had a hard time getting land prepared, much less getting seed in or up.
Drilling winter forage. Photo Credits: Les Harrison
Now the question becomes, should I plant on time and hope rain comes or should I wait for the rain and plant late?
The question is complicated by predictions of a dry winter resulting from La Nina conditions.
What Does The Specialist Say: The onset of a La Nina weather pattern is not a good sign for panhandle Florida forage producers. Ryegrass and clover yields will likely be poor in the winter of 2010/11. Small grains used for forage will fair marginally better. Ideally, a producer should plant when there is a 50 percent or better chance of a day or two of rain, and the prospect of additional rain in the two week forecast. Lower fields and pastures that have historically been wet will do better in a dry year. Timing, and good luck, will be critical for panhandle Florida forage producers this winter. Dr. Ann Blount, IFAS Forage Specialist, UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center