Manage forage production with limited precipitation or irrigation
By Noel Mues
UNL Extension Educator
Many farmers and ranchers are looking at what forage options are available this spring and summer to replace summer grass that will be lost due to drought. Making the most of limited precipitation and irrigation water will be important. Understanding when different forages are most water use efficient and options to hit the harvest window when the optimum amount of both quality and quantity of forage is present can help producers evaluate which forage options will best meet their goals. Several UNL resources provide more information on these topics:
A recent UNL webinar, Forage Production with Limited Precipitation or Irrigation, highlights when forages use water most efficiently and methods for planning how to incorporate these forages into production systems.
A paper by UNL Extension Range and Forage Specialist Jerry Volesky explains how producers should evaluate pasture and range conditions and make grazing management decisions in light of drought conditions. Grazing and Forage Management in 2013 also highlights how annual forages can be used in production systems to provide additional feed.
Several UNL Extension NebGuides provide additional facts on the use of forages. For more information on managing forage under the current drought conditions see:
--Forage Production with Limited Irrigation (www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/g2012/build/g2012.pdf);
--Summer Annual Forages for Beef Cattle in Western Nebraska (www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=1488); and
--Windrow Grazing (www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=490).