Secrets to Boosting Hay and Pasture Growth

As hay producers gear up for the busy cutting season, it’s essential to focus on the right timing and techniques for fertilizing hay and pastures. Ensuring optimal growth and nutrient uptake is crucial for a bountiful harvest. So, buckle up as we reveal some juiciest secrets to boost your hay and pasture production!

Timing is Everything

Did you know that the best times to topdress maintenance fertilizer on hay are right after the first cutting or in the early fall? These periods offer the ideal soil conditions and active plant growth necessary for nutrient absorption. After all, hay crops can remove approximately 50 lbs of K2O and 12 lbs of P2O5 per ton of dry hay harvested.

Tailored Nutrient Application

To determine the right nutrients and quantities to apply, a recent soil test is your guiding light. If you suspect nutrient deficiencies, tissue tests can complement the soil test results. Remember, when phosphorus and potassium rates are high, it’s advantageous to split the application. Apply half now, right after the first harvest, and the remaining in the fall.

OSU Fertility Recommendation Calculator

Thankfully, The Ohio State University Extension has developed an incredible tool to simplify the fertilizer rate determination process. The OSU Fertility Recommendation Calculator, along with a user guide, is available at Ames Farm Center. This convenient resource utilizes your soil test report to provide tailored recommendations for optimal growth.

Unleashing the Power of Nitrogen

For pure grass hay and pasture stands, strategic nitrogen applications might be necessary. Apply moderate amounts of nitrogen (30-50 pounds N/Acre) in June through early July, after the first cutting or the spring flush and reproductive stages of cool-season grasses. This application stimulates summer hay growth or pasture grass growth, which can be stockpiled for later use when pastures slow down.

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Weather Considerations

When it comes to applying nitrogen, keep an eye on the forecasted weather conditions. While moderate rainfall is beneficial for incorporating nitrogen into the soil, excessive rainfall (exceeding 1 inch) can lead to nitrogen losses into water sources downstream. So, be mindful of the weather and adjust your application accordingly.

Now that you’re armed with these secrets, it’s time to elevate your hay and pasture game to new heights. Remember, a well-fertilized landscape yields plentiful harvests. Happy farming!

Fertilizing Hay and Pastures