Dry conditions have MO producers considering other forages

There’s strong demand for alternative forages to feed cattle as Missouri’s hay supplies get shorter.

More than 80% of Missouri is experiencing dry conditions following a state-wide drought in 2022 and hay production is suffering. USDA says hays supplies in the state are 62% short to very short.

Cody Zuroweste tells Brownfield a local seed business helped him find sorghum sudangrass and this will be the first year growing the forage.

“The way I understand it is the sudangrass thrives in the heat. It doesn’t need a whole lot of water, obviously it does to get it started, but once it’s established, it will keep growing.”

Wesley Persicke with Missouri Southern Seeds, a seed wholesaler in Rolla, says producers should be able to get at least two cuttings with sudangrass.

“It helps build the stockpile, a positive for many, but if you’re switching to the sudangrass trying to make dry hay, it will be harder to do.”

Clyde Burchett, with Burchett Seed in Higginsville says there’s high demand for sudangrass and other summer forages this year.

“The sorghum sudangrass is getting short. Millets are getting short,” he says. “I’ve not been able to get a supply of cowpeas and hay beans.”

That’s not been the case for all retailers, but prices for summer forages have increased. Zuroweste says the sudangrass is worth the cost knowing what’s going into his cattle feed.

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