2011 Pasture Seasonal Summary

Table of Contents

  1. Pasture Management
  2. Annual Crop Supplement to Pastures
  3. Loss of Pasture Lands
  4. Bottom Line

Pasture Management

The 2011 pasture season had a slow start with cool temperatures and high moisture levels slowing grass growth and keeping pastures soft and subject to soil damage from livestock. These conditions lasted until late May when warmer weather improved grass growth. June growth was excellent with seasonal temperatures and good soil moisture but by early to mid July growth slowed due to dry soil conditions.

Late July saw improved moisture levels and growth continued through out the summer.

Fall growth during September and October was excellent and grazing has continued well into November on some farms.

Those producers using a rotational grazing system continue to see improved productivity from their pastures. Rotational grazing - moving livestock to fresh grass every 1-5 days encourages animal intake and gives the grass an adequate rest period (30 - 40+ days) to recover and re-grow.

Annual Crop Supplement to Pastures

The interest in annual crops for grazing has continued to grow; the annual crops (sorghum-sudan, turnips, oats, annual ryegrass, corn, etc) can provide high quality forage for part of the grazing season when perennials tend to be in a growth slump. The use of crop residue, particularly corn stalks, is another source of feed that is being utilized by more producers. The nutrients stay in the field, the livestock have a low cost good quality feed source and housing requirements are minimal.

Loss of Pasture Lands

Wet weather in April and early-May resulted in later than normal seeding. Some new seedings were reseeded due to extended flood damage. Late seedings coincided with drier weather, resulting in more variable establishment. In extreme cases, some seedings were delayed until August. This years' summer seedings were completed during optimum seeding dates appear to have germinated and established successfully. With reduced carry-over inventories of quality forage, there was significant use of cereals and cereal-pea mixtures as a companion crop. Also, an increased amount of oats were seeded as forage in late-summer and harvested as haylage or baleage late fall to increase feed inventories.

Bottom Line

Brown root rot (BRR) disease in alfalfa is becoming a significant problem in Ontario. The root infections can be detrimental to over-wintering vigour and promote other diseases, winterkill, stand decline and yield loss. Aphanomyces root rot (ARR) is another fungal disease that may be causing significant losses in alfalfa yield. Race 1 and 2 ARR resistant varieties are available.

For further information, refer to the OMAFRA Forage Website.

Technical information can also be obtained at the OMAFRA Field Crops Webpage and Crop Pest Ontario.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca