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June Grass Growth Doubles May's Low Hay Production

June 19, 2014
Cutting Hay
  

Grass grows in June just like it should have in May, says Rob Kallenbach, University of Missouri Extension forage specialist.

Usually, pasture grasses grow best in May, but not this year. Cool weather slowed growth.

Haymaking came up short this year, Kallenbach says. But in June, with moisture and warmer weather, the grass grows 80 pounds dry matter per day per acre. That's up from 40 pounds or less in May.

June and May have reversed, Kallenbach said on a weekly MU Extension teleconference with area agronomists.

Craig Roberts, MU fescue specialist, said in some cases mowed hayfields didn't have enough leaves to rake to bale.

By mid-June most years, cool-season gasses go into a summer slump with arrival of hot, dry weather.

Pat Guinan, MU climatologist, sees more rain in the week ahead-and possibly longer. That should be good for forage and crop growth. Temperatures will continue to rise, reaching seasonal levels.

For people, humidity will increase discomfort levels.

After two sunny days, the forecast calls for rain over most of the state. Rainfall should average an inch or more in most areas.

Heavy rains, especially in northern Missouri, showed it could rain again, after a winterlong dry spell. "Subsoil moistures are low," Guinan says. "There isn't much reserve. Rains every week are needed for good pasture and crop growth."

A small area centered on Unionville in Putnam County on the Iowa state line had more than 13 inches of rain. However, not all areas got precipitation. Dry areas center on a line in the east central area from Moberly to Paris, Missouri.

Salem, Missouri, in the Ozarks, is a center for a dry area.

In answer to a question, Guinan said, "Yes, this could be the first sign of an El Nino effect."

El Nino, which includes higher water temperatures in the mid-Pacific Ocean, can mean more summer rainfall in the Midwest.

"I don't see any drought like we had in 2012," he adds.

"If it seemed cloudier than usual, it has been," Guinan says. Eight of the first 16 days of June were cloudy. Solar radiation ran about half maximum potential.

Lack of sun reduced hay baling, Kallenbach says. "The second cutting of alfalfa should be harvested, but may not be. It's tough to make hay when we get rain every day."

Fescue seed harvest has started. However, production is expected to be lower than usual. Prolonged cool weather not only reduced leaf growth, but also seed head filling.

Brent Meyers, small grain specialist, said cold and even freezing weather late in the spring may account for wheat with empty or half-filled seed heads.

Wet weather may head off a potential outbreak of grasshoppers. "We're seeing a lot of immature grasshoppers, up to 50 per square foot," said Wayne Bailey, MU Extension entomologist.

"If you see that many, it's time to spray," he adds. "Grasshoppers are easier to kill when they are small."

But with wet weather, fungal diseases can curtail the hoppers. "If it turns hot and dry, watch out," Bailey says. "As grass dries up, grasshoppers move into crops."

Keep scouting the borders of crop, Bailey advises. "We are in the sixth year of the grasshopper cycle. Numbers could peak this year."

Source: University of Missouri Extension

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