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SPECIAL SECTION: 2013 FORAGE GUIDE Forage Mixes The species mix is one of the single most important factors in forage production. The legumes, grasses, and other forage species growing on your farm affect not only the feed value of the roughage produced, but also yield and growth distribution during the growing season. Forage plants not adapted to your soil conditions or your specific forage needs ultimately reduce the profitability and overall efficiency of your entire operation. THE MOST IMPORTANT CRITERIA FOR SELECTING A FORAGE MIX ARE: • Adaptability of the component species to your soil conditions and local weather patterns. • Your specific forage needs, whether for pasture, hay, silage, or green chop. • Your type of livestock operation. • The volume of forage you need annually to operate. • The time of year forages are needed. • Reseeding can be done at any time, either at time of establishment or when overseeding old stands. • Grass-legume mixtures are best for pasture or hay under most Midwest growing conditions. Compared to straight grass, they are higher in nutritive value and quality, which reduces feed cost. Grass-legume mixtures are characterized by more uniform growth distribution, particularly during the summer months when cool season grasses tend to go dormant. • Keep legume-grass mixtures simple. Limit seeding mixtures to only one grass and one or two legumes. Grasses and legumes sown in combination should be similar in palatability, maturity, and growing vigor. If not, problems can arise. For example, seeding tall fescue and orchardgrass in the same mixture usually causes spotty grazing and wasted forage due to palatability differences between these species. SOME SUGGESTED MIXTURES: • Rates are given in pounds of seed per acre. (UMC) 8 lbs. Medium Red Clover 8 lbs. Orchardgrass or 4 lbs. Timothy • Red Clover grows on less productive soils where low pH, poor drainage, and other factors, may reduce alfalfa stand and growth. It behaves as a biennial. After the second year there may be little clover remaining in the stand which should then be fertilized as straight grass. Liberal potash applications can prolong the life of clover and encourage growth and development of volunteer clover if it is allowed to reseed itself. Recommended use: hay or pasture. 12 lbs. Alfalfa 10 lbs. Bromegrass or Endophyte Free Tall Fescue • First choice for high yields on soils suited to alfalfa. Since alfalfa will survive only a few years under grazing, this mixture is recommended for hay only. 15 lbs. Endophyte Free Tall Fescue 8 lbs. Red Clover .75 lbs. Ladino Clover • Red Clover will dominate this mixture for the first two to three years. Follow the same fertilization guidelines as the previous mixture. Recommended use: hay or pasture. 5 lbs. Birdsfoot Trefoil 2 lbs. Timothy or 3 lbs. Orchardgrass Legumes Will Ladino Clover A large-leafed Ladino clover with excellent nutrition, excellent yield potential, superior winter hardiness and persistence in hot climates. Will has rapid regrowth following grazing, and is excellent for pastures and hay. Will is persistent, widely adapted and handles harsh climates. Excellent stolon development and quick establishment help Will compete against weeds. Physical Characteristics: Persistent perennial with large, trifoliolate leaves and white flowers. Grows 8 to 12 inches tall. Excellent stolon development (runners) that form shallow roots at the nodes. Leaves are non-hairy and usually marked with a white "V". Drought Tolerance: Tolerates dry weather. Growth Characteristics: A shallow-rooted perennial legume with creeping roots that reach up to 15 inches long. Soil and Nutrient Requirements: Not productive on droughty soils, but will survive dry weather. Prefers a pH of above 6, responds well to potassium. Maturity: Early to medium maturity, 5 days earlier than Regal. Disease Tolerance: A number of leaf and root diseases attack ladino. Close grazing allows light and air penetration to reduce the likelihood of these problems. Insect Tolerance: A number of insect species, spider mites, snails and slugs may adversely affect ladino clover establishment. 32 FORAGE MIXES Planting Requirements: Plant 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in spring or fall. Seeding Requirements: Seed 1/2 to 2 lbs. drilled or 2 to 4 lbs. broadcast. Harvesting Tips: To maintain good stands of ladino manage the pasture for clover rather than companion grasses. Grass competition from undergrazing is one of the major problems in maintaining productive stands of ladino. Summer 2013