Tag Archive: Production

Evaluation of ESN Controlled Release Fertilizer for Florida Corn Production

Environmentally Smart Nitrogen (ESN) corn trial at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center in Jay, FL. Photo: Mike Mulvaney

Dr. Michael J. Mulvaney, Cropping Systems Specialist, WFREC, Jay, FL

Now is the time to start thinking about nitrogen (N) management strategies for corn production in the Panhandle.  This is a follow-up to the March 2016 article:  Environmentally Smart Nitrogen (ESN) as a Controlled-release Nitrogen source for Cotton, or ESN for cotton production.  Researchers now have data on the use of ESN for corn production in Florida.

ESN is a polymer-coated urea formulated as 44-0-0. The reason it contains 2% less N than urea (which is 46-0-0) is due to the weight of the polymer coating.  ESN is commercially available in bulk in some parts of the Panhandle.  Many growers blend ESN with urea, commonly as a 50-50 mix, with the idea that some N is immediately available, while the rest will release slowly over time to “spoon feed” the crop.

How slowly does ESN release N?

The release of N from ESN is temperature dependent under controlled conditions.  That is, the higher the temperature, the faster the release.  So, it stands to reason that ESN release should be slower at corn pre-plant as compared to corn sidedress application.  Likewise, we should see different N release if we broadcast as compared to incorporating ESN.  UF Researchers took this out of the lab, and measured the release rates under field conditions at Jay and Citra, FL during the 2015 and 2016 growing seasons.

The Florida data showed that ESN releases 50% N in approximately 2-5 weeks, with broadcast applications releasing N slower than incorporated ESN.

But does it make a difference in yield?

We used different ESN:urea blends at different times (all pre-plant, or 25% N pre-plant with 75% N sidedress) under corn production at two sites across the Panhandle during 2015 and 2016.  These corn trials were all fertilized at 183 lbs N/ac (except the control, of course) – the only differences were in how it was applied.

Figure 1. Corn grain yields using various ESN:urea blends, applied either all pre-plant or using a 25% N pre-plant, 75% N sidedress split application. 183 lbs N/ac were applied to all plots except the control.

Yield differences were not statistically significant among any of the application treatments.

Cost

Global urea prices are near 5-year lows, but are about the same price as last year (Figure 2).  Locally sourced urea in March of 2016 was selling at $ 380/ton, and ESN was $ 600/ton.  That’s a 65% increase per unit of N for ESN over urea.  March 2015 prices were $ 560/ton urea and $ 687/ton ESN, an increase of 28% per unit of N over urea.  It is expected that prices in March 2017 will be slightly higher those in March 2016.

Figure 2. Global urea prices over the past five years.

Break even cost

If corn prices are $ 3.60/bushel, and 200 lbs N were applied, you would need a 15 bu/ac yield increase to break even for the additional cost of ESN over urea.  If only half of the N was applied as ESN, a 7.5 bu/ac yield increase would be needed to break even.

Summary

During corn production in the Florida Panhandle, 50% of N release can be expected in 2-5 weeks, depending on timing and placement. Although controlled release of N may lead to increased N use efficiency, there was no evidence of significant yield differences among blends, or timing of applications when applied at 183 lbs N/ac at either Jay, FL (a sandy loam) or Citra, FL (sand).

Advantages over urea:

  • It may limit the opportunity for N loss through volatilization, which may be useful under certain conditions where urea-N loss can be high (warm, moist, broadcast conditions). Research on N volatilization from ESN is underway through Dr. Cheryl Mackowiak’s program.
  • It stores better than urea. It won’t gum up unless prills are broken.

Disadvantages compared to urea:

  • It currently costs 65% more per unit of N than urea.
  • In a heavy rainfall, broadcast ESN can be pushed into low spots in the immediate area. You can incorporate ESN to help avoid this, particularly if you are on a slope.
  • ESN should be handled with reasonable care. Damaged prills are as good as urea but considerably more expensive. When the front-end loader scoops from the bottom of the pile, significant damage can occur to the polymer coating.  Also, broadcast applications can damage prills with contact to spreader fins.  Incorporation of ESN may damage prills as well, which may explain why incorporated N release was faster than broadcast N release.

    ESN prills washed into localized low spots after a heavy rain in 2016. Photo: Mike Mulvaney

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Author: Michael Mulvaney – m.mulvaney@ufl.edu

Cropping Systems Specialist, University of Florida, West Florida Research and Education Center, Jay, FL. Follow me @TheDirtDude
http://wfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/people/faculty/dr-michael-mulvaney/

Michael Mulvaney

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/13/evaluation-of-esn-controlled-release-fertilizer-for-florida-corn-production/

Panhandle Hay Production Conference and Trade Show – January 25

Panhandle Hay Production Conference and Trade Show – January 25

Regardless of weather conditions, the ability to supply ample and nutritious forage is critical for livestock production.  Learn more about this topic at the Hay Production Conference and Trade Show on Wednesday, January 25, 2017, at the Holmes County Ag Center, 1169 E Hwy 90, Bonifay FL.  Presentation topics will include: Fertility and Relative Forage Quality (RFQ), Decision Making for Variety Selection, Pest and Weed Management, Marketing Your Hay and Production Cost, and Understanding Weather Forecasting. Use the following link for the flyer with more details: 

Panhandle Hay Conference 2017

Agenda

  • 7:30 Registration
  • 8:00 Speakers
  • 10:30 Trade-show Break
  • 11:00 Speakers
  • 12:00 Lunch is Served
  • 2:00 Trade Show Closes

The $ 10.00/person registration fee includes lunch and proceedings.

For More Information Contact and to pre-register, please contact:
UF/IFAS Extension Holmes Co. Extension Office
Kalyn Waters, County Extension Director
Phone: 850-547-1108
Email: kalyn.waters@ufl.edu

 

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Author: Kalyn Waters – kalyn.waters@ufl.edu

Holmes County Extension Director working in the areas of Agricultural Management in row crop, natural resources, livestock and forage production. Specialized in Beef Cattle Production in the area of reproductive, nutritional and finical management.
http://holmes.ufl.ifas.edu

Kalyn Waters

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/07/panhandle-hay-production-conference-and-trade-show-january-25/

Rice Production in Florida – a Minor, yet Uniquely Valuable Crop

Rice Production in Florida – a Minor, yet Uniquely Valuable Crop

Man examines water plants.

Figure 1. Rice growing in the flooded fields of Florida’s Everglades Agricultural Area. Photo Courtesy of UF/IFAS File Photo Collection

On a recent trip to Arkansas, I was captivated by the beauty of vast fields of flooded rice nearly ready for harvest.  That image is just something you don’t see every day in the Florida Panhandle!  Equally interesting is the fact that rice is a semi-aquatic plant, related to wild rice “cousins” which grow natively right here in Florida waters (Figure 2).  So, I decided to learn more about how rice grows, and if there is a rice crop in Florida.  Turns out rice is indeed grown in Florida, the acres of which are beginning to increase (Figure 1.)

rice-wild-zizania-uf

Figure 2. Wild rice (Zizania aquatica) growing in Florida. Note the seed head at the top center of the photo. Photo courtesy of UF/IFAS File Photo Collection.

Florida Rice Production:

According to the publication, Trends in Rice Production and Varieties in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), rice has been grown in the wetlands of south Florida for over 60 years.  Part of that history included a protective quarantine on production in the late 1950s, due to a rice disease discovered in South America.  Rice was reintroduced as a south Florida crop in 1977, grown as a cover crop during the fallow period of the sugarcane production cycle.

During the summer period, more than 50,000 ac of fallow sugarcane land is available for rice production. In 2015, approximately 23,000 ac of rice were planted in the EAA (Florida Rice Council 2015). The net value of growing rice in the EAA as a rotation crop far exceeds its monetary return. In addition to being a food crop in Florida, production of flooded rice provides several benefits to the agroecosystem. By flooding fields, growers greatly reduce the negative impacts from issues related to soil subsidence (Wright and Snyder 2009), nutrient depletion, and insect pests (Cherry et al. 2015). This, in turn, enhances the subsequent sugarcane crop and maximizes the longevity of the soil by reducing soil loss due to oxidation. Trends in Rice Production and Varieties in the Everglades Agricultural Area

The acres of rice grown in south Florida have increased since 2008.  Most of the rice acreage is produced by the Florida Crystals Corporation (FCC).  This company primarily grows sugarcane, but incorporates rice during fallow periods.  Other rice producers include local farmers that grow sugarcane and winter vegetables.  According to the above referenced publication, 22,861 acres of rice were planted in 2015.  Of the 22,861 acres, local growers planted 6,564 acres, and FCC planted 16,297 acres.

Rice Production:

Discovery of ancient fields in China dates the beginnings of rice cultivation to more than 6,000 years ago.  Now rice is grown all over the world, and is a critically important food crop for many countries.  Over 90 percent of the world’s rice is produced and consumed in the Asia-Pacific Region, and in terms of production, rice is one of the top 3 grains grown and harvested in the world.  The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service reports nearly 500 million metric tons are produced each year in the world, and according to the USDA Economic Research Service, U.S. citizens consume over 100 million pounds of rice each year.

Most of the rice in the United States is grown in six states.  As shown in Figure 3, Arkansas leads the nation’s rice production with over 1.5 million acres planted in 2016.  Other major rice producing states are, in order of 2016 acres planted, California, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, and Texas.

rice-data

Figure 3. USDA 2016 Rice Planted Acreage in the U.S

Rice Cultivation:

Because rice is a semi-aquatic plant, production is unique among agricultural crops as it includes periods where the fields are flooded.  Flooding rice fields aid in the management of weeds and pest insects.  While rice is adapted to growing in water, many weeds are not, and the flooded fields reduce germination of these weed seeds.  The timing, duration, and frequency of floods depends on a number of factors including planting method, time of year, seedling emergence, soil type, field size, and how level the field is.  Land preparation for planting rice begins in late winter.  In Florida’s fallow sugarcane fields, rice planting usually begins during spring and continues into early summer. The process of incorporating the flooding cycles into the rice fields usually begins in early summer when rice reaches a certain growth stage.  Rice is harvested in late summer through early fall using combines that cut the stalks and thresh the grains from the seed heads.  The grain is then dried to optimum moisture levels for storage, transport, and packaging.

 

Summary:

Rice is a globally critical crop that feeds people on nearly every continent.  While the scale of rice grown in Florida is relatively insignificant, when compared to the rest of the United States, the inherent growth characteristics and cultivation methods provide important secondary benefits to both the environment and sugarcane fields of the Florida Everglades Agricultural Area.  These values include improved pest management, water conservation, habitat for wildlife, improved fertilizer efficiency, and increased organic amendments from rice stubble.  The short video above by Florida Crystals Corporation highlights the unique attributes of growing rice in Florida.

For more information on rice, please see the following resources used for this article:

 

 

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Author: Judy Biss – judy.ludlow@ufl.edu

Judy Ludlow is the Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent in Calhoun County, Florida

Judy Biss

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/11/05/rice-production-in-florida-a-minor-yet-uniquely-valuable-crop/

SesameFARM – A New Irrigation Scheduling Model for Sesame Production

SesameFARM – A New Irrigation Scheduling Model for Sesame Production

Rowland SesameRomain Gloaguen and Diane Rowland, UF/IFAS Agronomy Department

Sesame research has been carried out at the University of Florida (UF/IFAS) for more than 5 years now.  Scientist there know more about the crop and its behavior in the Southeastern US than ever before. Research results from multiple aspects of sesame management, such as row spacing, cultivar selection, fertilization rates and timing, planting date and irrigation, is now being compiled and submitted for publication. These results will soon be available to interested growers in the region. The UF/IFAS team has also developed SesameFARM, a new irrigation scheduling model that has a similar platform to the model already available for peanuts called PeanutFARM (http://peanutfarm.org/).

Sesame is known to be a relatively low input crop, able to reach good yields with 60 lbs/ac of nitrogen fertilizer. It is also, and more importantly, drought tolerant. In fact, in some African countries it is the last crop that can be grown when every other crop fails under severe drought. This trait is particularly interesting since water consumption in Florida is likely to intensify in the coming years, accentuating the conflict between urban and farming uses. However, like all crops, sesame will perform better under irrigation.

The purpose of SesameFARM is to help growers with the irrigation management of their crop, taking advantage of its relatively low requirement for water. Sesame is a new crop for most growers in the Southeast, so questions arise about whether to irrigate or not because of the drought tolerant reputation of the crop. Common questions include, “How long can the crop resist a dry period?” and, “How can I determine if the crop is water stressed before the first wilting symptoms appear?”  SesameFARM addresses these questions through utilizing phenological measurements of the crop over the past five years of research, and the application of a growing degree day (GDD) model for sesame. The development and validation of the model is a collaborative effort between UF/IFAS and the University of Georgia with Drs. Wes Porter and Scott Tubbs.

Rowland Screenshot 1SesameFARM estimates the daily amount of water available for the crop in the soil, compared to the estimated daily amount of water used by the crop. To do so, SesameFARM models root length, canopy development, and water use throughout the season utilizing accumulated GDDs. The user simply inputs the daily average temperature, rainfall, evapotranspiration and irrigation applied, and the model estimates whether irrigation is needed. The weather data can be accessed through the Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN) (http://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/) website for Florida, and the UGA Weather Network for Georgia (http://weather.uga.edu/). Rowland Screenshot 3

The final output from the model is either “Adequate Soil Moisture” when the water supply is sufficient for the crop, “Check Field” when it falls below 70% of the maximum plant available water and “Irrigate” when it falls below 50%. The model can only run with data from the previous day, since the weather stations release their information after a 24 hour cycle. To compensate for this, the model gives an estimate of how many days are left before the next call for irrigation.Rowland Screenshot 2

 

An online version of SesameFARM is not yet available, but a free beta version can be obtained upon request to: Romain Gloaguen. If you choose to use it, feedback and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 

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Author: Diane – dlrowland@ufl.edu

My professional research is focused on the physiological mechanisms which determine stress response in crops. I am particularly interested in drought tolerance and irrigation scheduling. I study peanut, cotton, corn, and sesame.

Diane

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/24/sesamefarm-a-new-irrigation-scheduling-model-for-sesame-production/

The Vegetable Production Handbook of Florida: The Go-to-Guide for Vegetable Farmers

The Vegetable Production Handbook of Florida:  The Go-to-Guide for Vegetable Farmers

Figure 1 freeman 3The recently updated Vegetable Production Handbook of Florida (VPH) is the go-to-source of information on vegetable production.  So you need to know how to control leafminers in sweet potato? It is in there! Maybe you have a problem with Cercospora leaf spot in okra? Need some weed management options in tomato? That is in there too! You will also find information on weed management in watermelon, disease control in squash, and on and on.  You will be hard pressed to find a better desk-top or truck-seat reference guide for vegetable production.

The Vegetable Production Handbook has production recommendations for most of the vegetable crops produced  commercially in Florida. For each crop group there are recommendations for varieties, planting date, plant spacing, soil fertility, weed, insect, and disease management. Always remember to consult pesticide labels before making any application. Links below are to the entire VPH document, as well as the UF/IFAS Extension website that has each individual chapter listed

Freeman Crop IndexInformation in the VPH is derived from the research and years of experience of a team of UF/IFAS specialists.The VPH Team is made up of specialists in horticulture, entomology, plant pathology, nematology, weed science, and soil science.   The 2016-2017 edition is now available online, or as hard copies available to commercial growers at your local County Extension office. The authors and editors hope you will utilize this valuable resource to contribute to the success in the current and coming growing seasons.

Links to the Vegetable Handbook online:

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_vph (by crop)

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/cv/cv29200.pdf (complete 371 page handbook)

 

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Author: Josh Freeman – joshuafr@ufl.edu

Dr. Freeman’s program focuses on vegetable and melon cropping systems important to the state and region. Much of his research and extension efforts are focused in the area of soil fumigants and fumigant alternatives for soil-borne pest and weed management. Many of the vegetable crops in Florida are produced using the plasticulture production system. For decades growers have relied on the soil fumigant methyl bromide for pest management. This chemistry is no longer available and Dr. Freeman’s program is addressing this issue.
https://www.facebook.com/NFRECVegetable

Josh Freeman

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/08/27/the-vegetable-production-handbook-of-florida-the-go-to-guide-for-vegetable-farmers/

National Beekeeper Reports Reveal a Significant Decline in Colonies, Production, and Income

National Beekeeper Reports Reveal a Significant Decline in Colonies, Production, and Income

Bees and Brood. Photo by Judy Biss

Bees and Brood. Photo by Judy Biss

It has been a tough year for beekeepers.  Two recent national reports revealed that beekeepers suffered the triple whammy of colony loss, reduced honey production, and lower prices, all of which ultimately reduced income over this past production year.

The Bee Informed Partnership, in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), conducted their tenth annual national survey of honey bee colony losses.  The survey is part of a larger effort to understand why honey bee colonies are declining, and what can be done to manage the situation.

Estimates of the total economic value of honey bee pollination services range between $ 10 and $ 15 billion annually, and according to the recently released UF/IFAS publication Minimizing Honey Bee Exposure to Pesticides,

“The western honey bee is conceivably the most important pollinator in American agricultural landscapes. The honey bee is credited with approximately 85% of the pollinating activity necessary to supply about one-quarter to one-third of the nation’s food supply. Over 50 major crops in the United States and at least 13 in Florida either depend on honey bees for pollination or produce more abundantly when honey bees are plentiful. Rental of honey bee colonies for pollination purposes is a highly demanded service and a viable component of commercial beekeeping and agriculture. Bee colonies are moved extensively across the country for use in multiple crops every year. There are also over 3,000 registered beekeepers in Florida, managing a total of more than 400,000 honey bee colonies and producing between 10–20 million pounds of honey annually.”

According to preliminary results as reported in the Bee Informed collaborative annual nationwide survey and Colony Loss 2015 – 2016: Preliminary Results:

  • Beekeepers across the United States lost 44 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year April 2015 to April 2016.
  • Rates of both winter loss and summer loss—and consequently, total annual losses—worsened compared with last year.
  • Over 5,700 beekeepers completed the survey providing valuable information about honey bee colony numbers and health for the 2015/2016 winter season.
  • All told, these beekeepers are responsible for about 15 percent of the nation’s estimated 2.66 million managed honey bee colonies.
  • Collectively, responding beekeepers managed 389,083 colonies in October 2015, representing about 15% of the country’s estimated 2.66 million managed honey producing colonies
  • An estimated 28.1% of the colonies managed in the United States were lost over the 2015-2016 winter.
  • This represents an increase in losses of 5.8 percentage points compared to the previous 2014-2015 winter, but is close to the 10-year average total winter loss of 28.6% (see figure 1).
  • Just over half of the survey respondents (59%) experienced winter colony loss rates greater than the average self-reported acceptable winter mortality rate of 16.9%.
  • In 2015, summer losses, at 28.1%, were the same as winter losses.
  • When all results were combined, beekeepers lost 44.1% of their colonies between April 2015 and March 2016.
  • This high rate of loss is close to the highest annual loss rate over the 6 years we have collected annual colony loss numbers.

Figure 1: Summary of the total overwinter colony losses (October 1 – April 1) of managed honey bee colonies in the United States across nine annual national surveys. The acceptable range is the average percentage of acceptable colony losses declared by the survey participants in each of the survey. https://beeinformed.org/2016/05/10/nations-beekeepers-lost-44-percent-of-bees-in-2015-16/

In their report, researchers indicate that colony losses are likely due to a number of factors.  Pesticides, poor nutrition, and changing land use resulting in loss of foraging habitats are likely causing stress to honey bee health and survival.   One of the greatest factors at this point, however, is the varroa mite (Varroa destructor), a devastating bee parasite that easily spreads between colonies.  Based on current research, the varroa mite is more numerous than previous estimates have shown, and they are also implicated in being vectors of several bee viruses.

A female Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman, feeds on the hemolymph of a worker bee. The mite is the oval, orange spot on the bee's abdomen. Credit: James Castner, University of Florida

A female Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman, feeds on the hemolymph of a worker bee. The mite is the oval, orange spot on the bee’s abdomen. Credit: James Castner, University of Florida

For more information on the Varroa mite and other bee diseases, please see the following press release about a new study of honey bee pests:  First Multi-year Study of Honey Bee Parasites and Disease Reveals Troubling Trends and view the video on varroa mites from UF/IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab.

Coupled with this report of colony loss is the decline in national honey production reported in 2015.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has released their annual Honey Production Report which describes a 12 percent decrease for operations with five or more colonies.

NASS HOney ProdThe NASS report states that United States honey production in 2015 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 157 million pounds, down 12 percent from 2014. There were 2.66 million colonies from which honey was harvested in 2015, down 3 percent from 2014. Yield of honey harvested per colony averaged 58.9 pounds, down 10 percent from the 65.1 pounds in 2014.  United States honey prices also decreased during 2015 to 209.0 cents per pound, down 4 percent from a record high of 217.3 cents per pound in 2014.

Just as with managing any livestock commodity, beekeepers must manage their bee colonies based on ever changing environmental, biological, and economic variables.  The good news is that the importance of pollinating insects to our food supply is receiving greater attention on a national scale, resulting in increased recognition and research into the factors causing bee colony declines.

For more information, please see the following resources used for this article:

 

 

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Author: Judy Biss – judy.ludlow@ufl.edu

Judy Ludlow is the Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent in Calhoun County, Florida

Judy Biss

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/06/17/national-beekeeper-reports-reveal-a-significant-decline-in-colonies-production-and-income/

Improving the Efficiency of Your Hay Production

Improving the Efficiency of Your Hay Production

Hay is the most expensive feed for livestock because of the shear volume needed when pastures are dormant. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Yield is what is typically evaluated when you consider hay production efficiency, but the forage quality also plays a huge role, because it determines the amount of supplemental feed that must be purchased to maintain animal performance. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

As cattle prices have drastically declined, producers are closely examining every production expense.  It makes perfect sense to closely evaluate the efficiency of the hay produced on an operation, because hay is typically the most expensive feed fed to livestock.  Not only because of the cost to produce it, but because of the sheer volume needed as the base feed when summer pastures are dormant.

Yield is what is typically evaluated when you consider efficiency, but the forage quality also plays a huge role, because it determines the amount of supplemental feed that must be purchased to maintain animal performance.  Producers often focus on the protein provided by forages, but the biggest challenge to maintaining the body condition of cattle through the winter for growth, reproduction, and milk production relates to fiber digestibility and ultimately the level of energy provided by the hay.  In cattle production the energy content of feedstuffs are usually measured as Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN).  In essence then the goal should be to produce the optimum level of both yield and quality measured, not in total pounds of hay, but in total pounds of TDN/acre.  As you drill-in on hay production, there are four key areas of management that impact overall efficiency.

1 Variety Selection

There are clear differences between forage types as to both the yield and quality of hay produced.  In general, legumes and annual forages have the highest quality, while perennial grass varieties provide the greatest yield per acre.

Summary of16,000 forage samples from several different forage species submitted to the University of Georgia’s Feed and Environmental Water Lab between July 2003 and February 201. The average (black vertical lines) and typical range (yellow to green horizontal bars) of TDN in samples of various forage species submitted. Behind the graph lies a gray bar representing the TDN needs of a typical dry cow and a blue bar for the TDN needs of a typical lactating beef cow. Source: Forage Quality Differences in Species.

Summary of 16,000 forage samples submitted to the University of Georgia’s Feed and Environmental Water Lab between July 2003 and February 2011. The average (black vertical lines) and typical range (yellow to green horizontal bars) RFQ Scores for samples of various forage species submitted. Behind the graph lies a gray bar representing the RFQ requirements for dry cows and a blue bar for the RFQ requirements for lactating beef cows. Source: Forage Quality Differences in Species.

In the early 2000s, researchers from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Florida developed a more robust measure of forage quality called Relative Forage Quality (RFQ). The RFQ index is based on TDN and and fiber digestibility as well as estimates of dry matter intake (DMI) .  In the chart above you can see the variation in Relative Forage Qulaity (RFQ) of different forages. Just as cattle producers have learned to depend on indexes such as $ Weaned or $ Beef for cattle selection, the RFQ scores provide a single index number that accounts for the total nutrient quality and digestibility that affects both voluntary intake and nutrient availability.  An RFQ score of 100 meets the nutritional needs of dry, mature cows.  In the Chart above the black bars are the averages for the listed forage varieties.  It is clear that alfalfa,  perennial peanut and traditional peanut hay are superior for RFQ. There are other annual varieties however, such as small grains, and ryegrass that can also meet the needs of lactating cattle.  Notice that the higher quality pearl millet and sorghum samples sent into the Forage Lab met the energy requirements of lactating cattle as well.  In years when weather conditions favor annual forage production, excess growth can be harvested for excellent quality baleage or hay.

2006-08 UGA Warm Season Grass Variety TestLegumes, however, are generally no match to the yield of perennial grasses.  Most legumes will only produce 2-5 tons of forage per acre in a season.The table above shows how much forage can be produced with high fertility at the research station in Tifton, GA.  Researchers there produced an average of 6-12 tons of forage with Bahia and Bermudagrass Varieties in their 3-year variety test, which is not really the same as large scale commercial hay production.   The key point of this chart, however, is that when all varieties were managed equally, the newer grass culitivars produced superior yields as compared to the old standards of Pensacola and Coastal.

As you can see, there are a number of forage variety options to choose from to efficiently produce quality hay for cattle.  On most operations, however, the hay fields have already been established, so the remaining three areas of management should be the focus for improving the efficiency of fields already in production.

2 Production Management

Fertilization is the primary management tool used to boost hay production.  The chart above illustrates the level of nutrients removed from a 6-ton hay harvest season.  When it comes to fertilization, “Nitrogen is the gas that makes grass grow.”  Nitrogen has the greatest impact on the growth and total yield of forages.  The other three elements are still very important for the health and long-term productivity of a hay field.

During his presentation on Improving Pasture Efficiency at the 2015 Northwest Florida Beef Conference, Jose Dubeux shared the results of some research on the effects of both nitrogen and potassium fertilization of Bermudagrass in Georgia.  In this study, 100 pounds of nitrogen doubled the Coastal Bermudagrass yield, but there were diminishing returns for nitrogen fertilization beyond that point.  The potassium that research has shown is so important for health of the stand, had a much smaller effect on total forage yields.

Don’t forget to pull soil samples annually to make sure the pH of the field is in an acceptable range to get full use of the fertilizer that is applied, and that only the phosphorus, potassium and sulfur that are needed by the crop are applied.  These nutrients are essential for stand health and maintenance, but will only enhance yields if they are deficient.  The small investment in soil testing ensures the most efficient use of expensive fertilizers.

The other key area of production management is pest management.  With lower cattle prices, it may be tempting to skimp on the costs for weed and armyworm control, but these pests rob hay fields of both yield and quality.   Weeds steal water and nutrients, and armyworms consume the most nutritious parts of the plant – the leaves.  The way to control pests more efficiently is to scout hay fields more frequently and control them when they’re small and easier to control with cheaper chemicals.

3 Harvest Management

No matter which forage variety you choose to harvest for hay, or the level of nitrogen fertilization utilized, maturity has the greatest effect on the digestibility and ultimately the level of energy available to livestock.  At six weeks of growth or re-growth, Coastal Bermudagrass has a 3% higher protein concentration and is 10% more digestible than at eight weeks re-growth.  While that may not sound like that big of a difference, the cost of purchasing supplemental feeds can add up quickly.

 Assumptions: 1,200 lb beef cow, average to above-average milking ability, first three months postpartum, 6.0 lbs of TDN required daily, and supplement that provides 85% TDN and costs $  200/ton ($  0.10/lb). Source:

Assumptions: 1,200 lb beef cow, average to above-average milking ability, first three months postpartum, 6.0 lbs of TDN required daily, and supplement that provides 85% TDN and costs $ 200/ton ($ 0.10/lb). Source: Understanding and Improving Forage Quality

The data in the chart above, with an assumed $ 200/ton supplemental feed, shows a significant difference in hay quality based solely on when it was harvested.  The 6-week old bermudagrass grass was high enough in quality that only 3.5 pounds of daily supplemental feed would be needed to maintain a cow nursing a calf during peak lactation. The 8-week old grass would require 6.5 lbs./day/head of supplement.  The three pound/head difference may not sound like a big deal, but when you do the math for a 100 head herd being fed for 120 days it equals an additional 18 tons of feed, which in this example, is an added $ 3600 expense.  The only difference in how it was managed was how mature the hay was when it was harvested.  True the older grass would produce higher yields, so it is somewhat of a balancing act to harvest immature hay that is old enough for adequate yield.  As a general rule, 5-6 week old hay provides a good balance for both.  Certainly, rainfall plays a major factor on the timing of harvest, but in general the goal should be to harvest before the grass becomes rank with seed heads and much lower digestibility. Harvesting more frequently will increase harvest costs, but it will also spread your risk from losses due to unexpected rainfall and armyworms.

There are other factors in addition to maturity that affect forage quality, so it is important to send in forage samples for lab analysis before developing your winter supplementation plan.  While your at it, enter that quality hay you have produced in the Southeast Hay Contest, so you can get the forage analysis you need and potentially earn some bragging rights as one of the best hay producers in the region.

4  Storage Options

The final challenge is protecting this valuable resource you worked so hard to produce. You can do everything right:  best forage variety, fertilizer, weed control, and harvest date, and still be inefficient, if hay is left outside in the weather for 6-9 months.  As the chart above indicates, hay stored on the ground, and out in the elements deteriorates by 28%.  Put another way, you could get by producing almost 25% less hay each year, if you store it under a barn.

There are other tricks to the art of hay making that can also improve efficiency, such as the type of equipment used, managing the moisture content, and weather forecasting abilities.  If you make the effort and investment in a productive forage variety, fertilize it well, keep the weeds and pest to a minimum, harvest before maturity, and protect it during storage, you can produce a consistent, quality feed for your herd year after year.  The management techniques described in this article are not the cheapest methods to produce hay, but if you compare the digestible nutrients produced to the investment made, it will be more efficient.

 

PG

Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – Jackson County Extension Director – Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.
http://jackson.ifas.ufl.edu

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/06/04/improving-the-efficiency-of-your-hay-production/

New Propiconazole Restrictions for 2016 Peanut Production

New Propiconazole Restrictions for 2016 Peanut Production

Peanut Fungicide Application 6-21-13

The European Union has significantly reduced tolerance levels of propiconazole residue in imported peanuts.  Photo credit: John Atkins

Michael J. Mulvaney, Nick Dufault, Bob Kemerait

Peanut growers take note, there are new import restrictions on propiconazole residues in peanuts going to the European Union (EU).  Propiconazole is an active ingredient in the common peanut fungicides Tilt, Tilt/Bravo, Artisan, Stratego, PropiMax, and Bumper.

The restrictions apply only to shipments that may be destined for the European Union.  If there is any possibility that peanut may go to a buying point, the peanut industry recommends that no propiconazole be used in 2016.  The restrictions do not apply for domestic use, such as green peanuts for boiling.

The import restrictions are not due to any new risk from propiconazole use, but rather are due to EU questions about the methodology to determine maximum residue limits. In light of those questions, the EU has reduced the import tolerance detection limit to a concentration of 0.01 ppm, compared to the US maximum residue limit of 0.2 ppm.  That means that if they can detect propiconazole in peanut shipped to the EU, the shipment will be rejected.

Leaf spot is threatening peanut yields in Panhandle Florida.

Leaf spot annually threatens peanut yields in the Florida Panhandle.

Propiconazole has been primarily used for leaf spot control in peanuts.  Planting prior to May 10 can reduce risk of leaf spot pressure, but will also increase risk of TSWV and white mold pressure.  Some suggested propiconazole alternatives for 2016 spray programs include:

  • Tank mix Alto 100 SL (5.5 fl oz/A) with Bravo Weatherstik (1 pt/A)
  • Chlorothalonil (1 pt/A) and Eminent (7.2 fl oz/A)
  • Chlorothalonil (1 pt/A) and Topsin-M (5-10 fl oz/A). Note: a tank-mix of chlorothalonil + Topsin-M should not be used more than twice per season.
  • Chlorothalonil (1 pt/A) and Topguard (7-14 fl oz/A)
  • Priaxor (6 fl oz/A)
  • Fontelis (12-24 fl oz/A to a maximum of 72 fl oz/A/season), also for soil borne diseases
  • Elatus (7.3-9.5 fl oz/A to a maximum of 21.9 fl oz/A/season), also for soil borne diseases
  • Provost (7-8 fl oz/A), also for soil borne diseases

For more information, contact your local Extension Agent, Extension Specialist, crop consultant, buying point, and/or chemical representative.

 

PG

Author: Michael Mulvaney – m.mulvaney@ufl.edu

Cropping Systems Specialist, University of Florida, West Florida Research and Education Center, Jay, FL
http://wfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/people/faculty/dr-michael-mulvaney/

Michael Mulvaney

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/30/new-propiconazole-restrictions-for-2016-peanut-production/

Salvaging Winter Forage Production this Year

Figure 1. Nitrogen deficient triticale forage. Notice older leaves are yellow and stems have a purple cast. Photo credit: Cheryl Mackowiak

Figure 1. Nitrogen deficient triticale forage. Notice older leaves are yellow and stems have a purple cast. Photo credit: Cheryl Mackowiak

Cheryl Mackowiak, UF/IFAS NFREC Soils Specialist

Cool-season forages took a hit this year from challenging growing conditions. Summer extended into winter, so perennial summer grasses remained competitive with the cool-season forage plantings all the way into December and January. Diseases were much more plentiful, particularly on fall-planted annual ryegrass. In addition, heavy fall and winter rains resulted in wasted fertilizer applications, as nutrients (nitrogen, potassium, and sulfur) washed or leached beyond the reach of annual forage root systems. In general most producers are frustrated with the productivity of their winter forages this season.  Fields are pale and stunted, when they are normally lush green and abundant at this point in the year.  This leads to the key question, “Is it worth trying to salvage some cool-season forage production this late in the season?” The short answer is maybe.

The following are some general observations that may help with your decision-making. In addition, you should consider contacting your local county extension agent for further consultation if your options seem unclear, or if a poor choice might result in additional financial hardship.

  • To keep small grains forages (wheat, cereal rye, triticale, oats) productive longer, it is best to prevent head formation by cutting or grazing. Once the heads have formed, the plants will not likely respond well to additional nitrogen fertilizer. The plant has entered its reproductive stage, when most of the nutrients are reallocated from the plant to the grain. If the plants have lots of young, non-heading tillers (shoots), then they might be somewhat more responsive (later maturing, annual ryegrass may respond for a somewhat longer period).
  • If you observe leaf spotting or other foliar disease symptoms on any cool-season grass forages, you might prolong production by grazing or cutting off the forage to remove the disease inoculant. Chances are improved that the regrowth will be more vigorous and look healthier.
  • If your small grains or annual ryegrass field looks uniformly yellow (particularly the oldest leaves), you may be suffering from nitrogen (N) deficiency (Figure 1 above). If your field appears more like a patchwork of yellow and green, you may have a sulfur (S) or nitrogen + sulfur deficiency (Figure 2). Luckily only 10 lbs S/A is required for a quick response (7 to 10 days). A nitrogen application response is similarly quick. Thirty to 50 lbs N/A should be sufficient for good cool-season forage recovery to salvage some of the investment made in winter.
Figure 2. Triticale field with sulfur deficiency symptoms, early March. Photo credit: Cheryl Mackowiak

Figure 2. Triticale field with sulfur deficiency symptoms, early March. Photo credit: Cheryl Mackowiak

  • Three or more nitrogen fertilizer applications of 50 lbs N/A, or a high seasonal N application (above 80 lbs N/A) increases your risk of accumulating nitrates, particularly if used to promote regrowth following cutting or grazing. Dark green forage is beautiful to behold, but it may signal nitrate accumulation from supra-optimal N fertilizer applications (Fig. 3). Heavy forage regrowth can dilute tissue nitrogen, thereby reducing the risk of nitrate poisoning to livestock.
Figure 3. Triticale field ten days after a 28-0-0-5 application (55 lbs N/A and 10 lbs S/A. Photo credit: Cheryl Mackowiak

Figure 3. Triticale field ten days after a 28-0-0-5 application (55 lbs N/A and 10 lbs S/A. Photo credit: Cheryl Mackowiak

For more information please see the following UF/IFAS Publications:

Nitrate Poisoning in Grazing Cattle – Questions and Answers

Factors Affecting Forage Quality

 

PG

Author: Cheryl Mackowiak – echo13@ufl.edu


http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu

Cheryl Mackowiak

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/03/18/salvaging-winter-forage-production-this-year/

Brunswick Grass: a Weed Contaminant in Bahiagrass Seed Production Fields

Brunswick Grass: a Weed Contaminant in Bahiagrass Seed Production Fields

Ann Blount, Jay Ferrell, Anthony Drew, Jose Dubeux, and Cheryl Mackowiak (in cooperation with Johnny Melton, Jack Melton Family, Inc.)

Brunswick grass (Paspalum nicorae Parodi), sometimes referred to as “Brown seeded paspalum,” is becoming a problematic weed in summer perennial grass pastures in the southeast. Brunswick grass is a perennial summer grass, with a similar growing season and appearance to that of bahiagrass.  This plant is native to South America and was introduced as a soil conservation plant for erosion control and as a potential forage crop. This plant has become naturalized and has contaminated some bahiagrass pastures and more significantly seed production fields in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.

Brunswick Grass - Paspalum_nicoraeBrunswick grass is competitive with bahiagrass and bermudagrass.  Cattle will consume Brunswick grass when it is young and tender, however, it quickly becomes rank and loses its palatability, causing cattle to avoid grazing it.   Since it is less palatable, the plant gains a competitive advantage and will eventually dominate in perennial grass pastures. Brunswick grass has reportedly contaminated bahiagrass seed fields and pastures in several Florida counties, including Gilchrist, Levy, Alachua, Citrus and Sumter.

The seed of Brunswick grass is close in size to that of Pensacola bahiagrass. This has made it difficult for bahiagrass seed processors to effectively eliminate Brunswick grass to meet total weed seed specifications (2.0 %) for saleable seed. Brunswick grass is more easily removed from Argentine than Pensacola bahiagrass due to greater seed size differential.

The best method to stop the spread of Brunswick Grass is to avoid harvesting seed from pastures contaminated with this grass weed.  Seed producers must scout for Brunswick grass prior to seed harvest, to avoid the further distribution of this weed.  To our knowledge, no herbicides currently exist that will selectively remove Brunswick grass without severely injuring or killing the desirable pasture grasses. Therefore, high rates of glyphosate should be utilized to kill the pasture as the first step of total renovation. Mechanical cultivation alone may not eliminate Brunswick grass. Mechanical cultivation, in addition to herbicides and crop rotation, should provide successful control of Brunswick grass, since seed survival in a seed bank is not believed to be long-term.

It is important to remember that large quantities of bahiagrass seed are sold without any field inspections for purity, resulting in the sale of contaminated seed for use in new pasture plantings. When purchasing seed to establish new pastures, purchase only from reliable seed sources.

It is very important that livestock producers and bahia seed harvesters learn to identify Brunswick grass.  If producers are considering seed production, fields should be scouted for Brunswick grass first, before making the investment in additional fertilization needed for optimal seed production.  Seed harvesters should also become familiar with this grass weed to avoid contamination. The following are comparisons of Brunswick grass and Pensacola bahia.  If you need help positively identifying this grass, work with your County Extension Agent.  If needed, they can have samples sent in to the University of Florida Herbarium for positive identification.

Brunswick grass is a perennial summer grass, with a similar growing season and appearance to that of Pensacola bahiagrass (Fig. 1).

Blount Figure 1 Brunswick vs Bahia

Figure 1. Seed head of Brunswick grass and seed (left) (courtesy of Bruce Cook, CIAT) and Pensacola bahiagrass (right) (courtesy of Carlos Acuna, UNNE).

It has a deep and aggressive rhizome system that appears very different from bahiagrass rhizomes (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Rhizome comparison of Brunswick grass (left) and Pensacola bahiagrass (left center). Whole plant of Brunswick grass with leaves and rhizomes (far right)

Figure 2. Rhizome comparison of Brunswick grass (left) and Pensacola bahiagrass (left center). Whole plant of Brunswick grass with leaves and rhizomes (far right)

Brunswick grass seed are slightly smaller than that of Pensacola bahiagrass, and the seed coat has a dark, chestnut brown center that varies somewhat in size by variety (Figs. 3 and 4).

Figure 3. Seed of Brunswick grass (left) and Pensacola bahiagrass (right).

Figure 3. Seed of Brunswick grass (left) and Pensacola bahiagrass (right).

Figure 4. Close up of seed of Brunswick grass

Figure 4. Close up of seed of Brunswick grass

For more information on Brunswick Grass:

Tropical Forage Fact Sheet

 

PG

Author: Ann Blount – paspalum@ufl.edu


http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu

Ann Blount

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/02/27/brunswick-grass-a-weed-contaminant-in-bahiagrass-seed-production-fields/

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