USDA offers hay, pasture relief

USDA offers hay, pasture relief

By JIMMY SETTLE

The Leaf-Chronicle (TN)

As a long-term rainfall deficit continues to affect Tennessee farms, officials with the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) remind producers enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) that opportunities for managed haying and grazing exist.

With a modification to producers’ conservation plans, certain CRP stands established for permanent grasses (cool-season and native warm-season grasses) are eligible to be cut for hay or grazed by livestock.

Beginning July 2, CRP participants who have received written permission can hay or graze these grass stands.

“Native grasses will be an excellent source of hay during this drought,” said Gregg Brann, NRCS grazing lands specialist.

“Due to deep rooting of natives they will be more vegetative and higher-quality than other forages that have dried up.

“It is important to harvest native grasses as soon as possible after the July 2 date,” Brann said. “The ideal height to harvest natives for hay is 30 inches tall or when the first seedhead appears.

“My calculations show if CRP yields four tons per acre and half of the hay is given to the contract harvester for cutting, raking and rolling the hay, the producer would still have four rolls of hay for a cost of only $4 per roll,” he said.

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