News Update
April 12, 2011

Early Spring Grazing Tips: Manage Height, Cut Early

A frequently asked question in late May-early June is, "how come my pastures look so spot-grazed?"

The answer is fairly simple, but hard to do much about for that grazing season, according to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri (MU) Extension.

"An evenly grazed pasture in early summer usually results from optimal grazing pressure early in the spring. Get on the pastures early with enough cattle to graze it off like you would with a mower," said Cole.

Don't leave the cattle on very long and plan on returning for several grazing bouts, he recommends. When grass is growing fast, the rest period can be as short as 10 to 14 days.

"This type of grazing management reduces your chances of having that ragged, spot-grazed pasture later this year," said Cole.

If a producer's cattle population is too small to graze the pastures down to a 3-inch (in.) height, use power fencing to force the cattle to achieve that grazing height.

Keeping the grass, usually fescue, short early in the season also aids in new legume seedling establishment that may be in the mix. Pastures that get away and grow too tall should be cut for hay early in May.

"A May cutting makes excellent hay and sets the pasture up for hay cutting in July, or it can be worked into the grazing rotation the rest of the year," said Cole.

A three-day grazing school goes into more detail on grazing management. Grazing schools are being offered during 2011 on different start dates at different southwest Missouri locations: Halfway (April 26), Mount Vernon (May 24), Neosho (June 14), Marshfield (Sept. 13), Forsyth (Sept. 19) and Bois D'Arc (Oct. 18).

Information about other schools around the state is available on the Missouri Forage and Grassland Council website at

Attendance is generally limited to 25-30 people. Cost of the schools varies by location, and includes all of the materials (grazing manuals, guides, grazing stick). Daytime schools usually include meals and breaks and some include transportation.

Schools are conducted and sponsored by USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, MU Extension and Area Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

— Release by MU Extension.

Kentucky Reports State Wheat Crop Looks Good

Kentucky's 2011 wheat crop is on track as mid-April approaches. According to the Kentucky Weekly Crop and Weather Report, 54% of the crop was considered in good condition and 27% in excellent condition.

This is good news for wheat producers. A dry October resulted in late emergence of wheat, and a colder-than-normal early March slowed the growth of some wheat. Warmer temperatures later in the month allowed the wheat to catch up.

"We're cautiously optimistic now, but everyone knows we have a way to go," said Chad Lee, extension grain crops specialist in the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Agriculture. "There's not really anything to be concerned about now from a development standpoint, but producers should continue to scout their crops for any sign of diseases."

A good crop will be very important for producers. Wheat prices are expected to stay high due to crop condition concerns in major wheat producing states, such as Kansas and Oklahoma, which are abnormally dry or in a drought. As of April 11, wheat prices were $7.98 for May, $8.32 for July and $8.66 for September.

Another crop hurdle may come at the end of April and the beginning of May. This is when the plants will be near or in the flowering stage and the most susceptible to Fusarium head blight, also known as head scab. Fusarium head blight is a fungal disease that can cause lower yields and test weights. Of greater concern is the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol, known as DON, which the fungus that causes Fusarium head blight also produces.

Fusarium head blight struck many Kentucky fields in 2009. Warm, wet conditions favor its development. Producers can receive advance notice of potential outbreaks or risks of head scab in their area by signing up for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative's Fusarium head blight Alert System at

— Release by UK College of Agriculture.

Ag Groups Team Up to Fight Childhood Obesity

Novus International Inc., a leading manufacturer of animal and human health and nutrition products, has teamed up with the Progressive Agriculture Foundation (PAF) to educate children about healthy eating habits in an effort to help curb the growing obesity epidemic among children and adolescents. The organizations are working together to develop healthy lifestyle lessons that will be provided through the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program and will enable rural communities to find ways to have a healthier school lunch program for rural youth.

The pilot project is being made possible by a Healthy Lifestyle Challenge grant from Novus. The company will match up to $110,000 in contributions through the grant, meaning total funding for the project could reach $220,000. The grant will support five school-based safety and health day programs selected to receive resources that educate children about living a healthy lifestyle. Educational lessons will focus on the USDA food pyramid, the importance of eating healthy foods and the need to engage in physical activity. The same five communities selected during the pilot phase of the project will also hold health and nutrition symposiums that will discuss ways of providing healthier food choices for children in school cafeterias.

"Educating young individuals, and their parents, about leading healthy lifestyles at an early age is the first step in the fight to reduce childhood obesity," explains Thad Simons, President and CEO of Novus International Inc. "As children grow mentally and physically, it is important they have access to knowledge and resources that will help them develop healthy eating and lifestyle habits at an early age. From improving access to healthy food choices to getting children more physically active, we each have a responsibility to combat this growing epidemic."

The program was developed in response to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which revealed that childhood obesity has more than tripled in the United States during the last 30 years. Studies indicate children who are overweight or obese are more likely than youth of a normal weight to become overweight or obese adults who have increased risks of developing health problems associated with the disease later in life, such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

— Release by the Progressive Agriculture Foundation.

Ag Machinery Conference 2011 — New Location, Expands Program and Events

The annual 2011 Ag Machinery Conference, a three-day agriculture engineering and education conference, will be May 2-4 at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Waterloo, Iowa. New for 2011, the conference will hold its opening ceremony at the Cedar Valley TechWorks Monday, May 2. The evening's events will kick off with comments by 2011 AMC chairman Jim Evans of John Deere, and the mayor of the city of Waterloo, followed by a tour of the National Ag-Based Lubricants Center.

For more information on the conference, or to register, go to or contact Jim Evans at 319-292-8249 or To exhibit at the Ag Machinery Conference contact Pam Strum at 309-672-7174 or

— Release by the Agricultural Machinery Conference.

— Compiled by Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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