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Agricultural News

OSU's Dave Marburger Suggests Online Tool to Help Farmers Know When to Move Cattle Off Wheat

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:50:17 CST

OSU's Dave Marburger Suggests Online Tool to Help Farmers Know When to Move Cattle Off Wheat The wheat pasture situation this year has been disappointing for producers statewide. Many have grazed as much of their pasture as possible and have already removed their cattle. Others have not yet had the chance to graze. For the few producers who still have pasture left to graze, leaving some leaf material out there after grazing will be important for having any chance of a decent grain crop. With the forecast predicting continued dryness, removing cattle at the right time is of particular importance this year. Small Grains Extension Specialist at Oklahoma State University Dave Marburger, is encouraging farmers to consult the First Hollow Stem Advisor to help aid producers in determining the optimal time to remove cattle from wheat pasture.

According to Marburger, the optimal time to remove cattle from wheat pasture is at a growth stage called first hollow stem (FHS, between Feekes 5 and 6). This is the optimal time because the added cattle weight gains associated with grazing past first hollow stem are not enough to offset the value of the reduced grain yield (1-5% every day past FHS). He says, the wheat variety, amount of grazing, time when cattle are removed, and weather conditions after cattle removal determine how much total grain yield potential might be reduced.

One challenge for farmers each year, though, is knowing when to begin scouting for FHS. Developed by researchers at OSU, the First Hollow Stem Advisor is an online tool that can be found on the Mesonet website and helps farmers make that determination.

“With this tool, producers can select their variety from a list of varieties that separates them into three FHS categories: early, middle, and late. Then, maps can be generated to provide the probability of FHS based on current conditions and the 1- and 2-week projections,” Marburger explains. “When using this tool, it is recommended to start scouting for FHS from a non-grazed part of the field once the 5% probability is reached. Because stem elongation will begin moving quickly as the temperature warms up, starting your scouting at the 5% level will help give you the time it takes for making the preparations for cattle removal by the time FHS occurs. For producers who do not scout, it is recommended to remove cattle when the 50% probability level is reached.”

Marburger reminds farmers that this tool should be used as a proxy to begin scouting for FHS. The best estimate of FHS, he insists, is still to split stems from plants in each field to determine where they are developmentally.

“Another word of caution I want to mention when using the tool for this year especially is to consider when you were finally able to get stand establishment,” he said. “If this did not occur until the end of September to the beginning of October, this tool may be a little ahead of where your plants are developmentally. In this case, the tool can still give you the cue to start scouting, but checking for FHS in each field will let you know if you do have some grazing time left.”

You can read more of Marburger’s advice on how to spot First Hollow Stem in your fields in a recent post to his blogsite by clicking here.

Source - Small Grains Extension Specialist at Oklahoma State University Dave Marburger



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