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Forage Management Calendar

Forage management recommendations for each month of the year.

January

  • Calculate financial budget for this coming year's forage enterprises. Investigate ideas on reducing costs or increasing income from forages.
  • Attend educational meetings that relate to your forage enterprise.
  • Graze corn stalks but supplement with good quality forages.
  • Provide wind break or shelter for animals and feed extra energy if very cold weather.
  • Keep snowmobiles and other traffic off of alfalfa.
  • Renew your membership in the Pennsylvania Forage and Grassland Council (PFGC).

February

  • Order seed and supplies for spring forage seeding.
  • Attend educational meetings that relate to your forage enterprise.
  • Keep snowmobiles and other traffic off of alfalfa.
  • Begin routine maintenance and repairs on forage planting and harvesting equipment.
  • Remove cows from corn stalks to avoid excessive soil compaction.
  • In late February, frost seed legumes into small grains or pastures.

March

  • Finish frost seeding by early March.
  • Finish routine maintenance and repairs on forage planting and harvesting equipment.
  • Complete maintenance check and repairs on forage planting and harvesting equipment.
  • Order supplies (haybine knives & guards, rake teeth, twine, balage wrap or bags) for forage harvest.

April

  • Scout alfalfa fields for heaving and winter injury. If severe, make plans to thicken stand with grass or make plans to rotate to another crop.
  • Begin scouting for alfalfa weevil in late April.
  • Plant cool-season forages when soil is suitable.
  • Apply nitrogen to grass pastures and hay fields at greenup.
  • Begin grazing Be aware of bloat or grass tetany potential and take proper precautions.
  • Remove grazing livestock from fall-seeded small grains prior to jointing.

May

  • Finish planting cool-season forages by early May.
  • Seed warm-season grasses.
  • Seed summer-annual grasses.
  • Continue scouting for alfalfa weevil begin scouting for potato leaf hoppers.
  • If excess forage is available in pasture, then divert some of the paddocks into hay/silage production.
  • Apply phosphorus and potassium to forages after the first harvest according to soil test recommendations.
  • Harvest fall seeded small grains at the boot stage for top quality.
  • Begin making hay or silage from perennial forages based on the quality forage you wish to harvest.

June

  • Clip mature forages that were not grazed.
  • Seed summer-annual grasses.
  • Continue scouting for alfalfa weevil and potato leaf hoppers.
  • Harvest established forages 30 to 35 days after first harvest.
  • Harvest spring oats for forage at the boot stage.

July

  • Graze perennial warm-season or summer-annual forages as cool-season pasture growth slows.
  • Plant brassica crops for fall grazing.
  • Continue to harvest established forages on a 30 to 35 day schedule.
  • Continue scouting for potato leaf hoppers.
  • Harvest spring seeded forages approximately 75 days after seeding.
  • Purchase forage seed needed for August seeding.
  • Prepare fields intended for August seeding.

August

  • Complete August forage seedings.
  • Continue to harvest established forages on a 30 to 35 day schedule.
  • Continue scouting for potato leaf hoppers.
  • Harvest spring seeded forages approximately 75 days after seeding.
  • Inventory harvested forage. If additional forage needs to be purchased consider buying them locally "out of the field". This maybe cheaper than waiting till winter and purchasing them.
  • Sample and test hay and silage for forage quality.
  • Stop grazing those cool-season forage paddocks that will be stockpiled for grazing in November or December.

September

  • Final forage harvest should be completed early this month.
  • After the final hay harvest, apply fertilizer for stand maintenance and to improve winter survival.
  • Begin grazing summer-seeded brassica forage.
  • Stop grazing perennial warm-season forages to improve winter survival.
  • Sample and test hay and silage for forage quality.

October

  • Soil test fields that will be seeded to forages next year. Apply lime now to adjust soil pH.
  • Continue grazing summer-seeded brassica forage.
  • Harvest summer-seeded small grain forage.

November

  • If not done in October, soil test fields that will be seeded to forages next year. Apply lime now to adjust soil pH.
  • If the forage is needed, a final harvest of alfalfa can be taken when growth has stopped and the temperature drops to 24 F or lower.
  • If needed, apply fall herbicides for control of winter-annual weeds in legume fields.
  • Continue grazing summer-seeded brassica forage.
  • Begin grazing stockpiled forages.
  • Overgraze pastures that are to be overseeded with legumes in February or March.
  • Consider pasturing corn stover as a feed cost reduction strategy.

December

  • Begin feeding supplemental forage to cows grazing corn stover.
  • Continue grazing summer-seeded brassica forage.
  • Continue grazing stockpiled forages.
  • Overgraze pastures that are to be overseeded with legumes in February or March.
  • Order seed for frost seeding in February and March.
  • Calculate cost and returns associated with this past year's forage enterprises.
  • Keep snowmobiles and other traffic off of alfalfa.
  • Begin reviewing University and Industry data as to which species and varieties to seed on your farm next year.

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Forage Management Calendar

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