MO pastures and hay fields are dry

An extension livestock specialist says dry conditions are affecting pastures and hay fields.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows a diagonal dry stretch expanding from west central through northeastern Missouri.

Gene Schmitz with the University of Missouri tells Brownfield there hasn’t been much regrowth in central Missouri.

“The grass that hasn’t been grazed yet is typically growing at a very slow rate.”

The USDA confirmed the decline earlier this week, showing Missouri’s pasture conditions rated 35% good to excellent, a decline from the previous week and significantly lower than this time last year.

There is rain in the forecast this weekend and Schmitz says any amount will help. But he says pastures will need rest from grazing to fully recover.

“Two pastures are better than one, four is better than two. It doesn’t have to be extensive, but allowing those plants to recover will be very beneficial.”

Schmitz says hay production is also at risk. At the end of April, USDA says Missouri’s hay supplies are already 53% short to very short. But before buying a lot of grass hay, he encourages producers to consider local options.

“If you have row crop production in your area and there’s damaged wheat from the frost a few weeks ago, perhaps there may be an opportunity to pick up some wheat hay or haylage or forage being conserved from a cover crop like rye.”

Schmitz says if producers are going to purchase hay, require a test to confirm the nutrient value and know the bale weight.

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