Gamagrass in Kentucky

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Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by DCB4 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:35 am

I’m thinking I’d like to plant a test field of gamagrass and start cutting it for hay once it begins producing. Never been around any gamagrass or have any one close that has any real experience with it was hoping some people on here had experiences to share. One of my main concern is how bumpy of a ride will it be through the field with it being a clumpy grass like it is? I plan on planting a 5 acre field close to the house but was wondering how tolerable the ride would be say over 30 acres?



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Re: Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by Banjo » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:41 am

I don't have any. but seen a field once ....at a field day that was pretty bumpy. makes good summer grazing once established. i think i would consider something like RR crabgrass if your wanting hay. jmho

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Re: Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by Bigfoot » Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:32 am

I like to experiment with different forages. I have looked at/read about gammagrass several different times. I always turn away from it, because it won't stand up to grazing. If your just going to hay it, then thats a different story. How rough a ride is the field? I have no idea. Cant be much worse than a normal tractor ride accross a Ky field.
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Re: Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by DCB4 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:22 am

Bigfoot wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:32 am
I like to experiment with different forages. I have looked at/read about gammagrass several different times. I always turn away from it, because it won't stand up to grazing. If your just going to hay it, then thats a different story. How rough a ride is the field? I have no idea. Cant be much worse than a normal tractor ride accross a Ky field.
That’s very true I guess it really can’t get any bumpier! I’m starting to get the itch to experiment with some different things, KY31 was beat over my head like a 2x4 for years by grandad. I drilled a timmothy, orchard grass, non endophyte mix in a few spots this fall excited to see how that does. I’ve been doing a lot of research on this gamagrass as well as some sort of Sudan/sudex for hay as well. What have you come across that’s really peaked your interest as far as grazing? I’m a few years off before I’m ready to fully renovate pasture but it’s definitely on the horizon

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Re: Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by Bigfoot » Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:46 am

DCB4 wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:22 am
Bigfoot wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:32 am
I like to experiment with different forages. I have looked at/read about gammagrass several different times. I always turn away from it, because it won't stand up to grazing. If your just going to hay it, then thats a different story. How rough a ride is the field? I have no idea. Cant be much worse than a normal tractor ride accross a Ky field.
That’s very true I guess it really can’t get any bumpier! I’m starting to get the itch to experiment with some different things, KY31 was beat over my head like a 2x4 for years by grandad. I drilled a timmothy, orchard grass, non endophyte mix in a few spots this fall excited to see how that does. I’ve been doing a lot of research on this gamagrass as well as some sort of Sudan/sudex for hay as well. What have you come across that’s really peaked your interest as far as grazing? I’m a few years off before I’m ready to fully renovate pasture but it’s definitely on the horizon
Timothy and Orchard grass, might as well be treated as an annual here in Ky. No longevity. I'm not supporting climate change, but something has happened to make Ky 31 not what it used to be. I'm now a fan of warm season grasses. Specifically our native crabgrass. Comes late and leaves early, but broadcast seeding some wheat in the fall can overcome that very cheaply
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Re: Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by Lucky_P » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:15 am

Like Bigfoot, I looked at many of the NWS grasses, including gamagrass - but the high cost of seed, difficulty in getting them established, and the limited grazing they'll support made them all non-starters here, as we were a grazing only operation and bought in all our hay.

KY 31 is still what it used to be... but attention to the issues associated with the endophyte have made it less desirable for many producers. And, the NRCS and FSA 'have it in for it' because it's not a good 'wildlife' habitat plant. That said, it is tough as nails.
In our experience, the endophyte-free fescues will turn toes-up at the first hint of drought or overgrazing. Novel endophyte types are the way to go, if you're wanting to escape the 'summer slump' and 'fescue foot' issues associated with KY-31 while still getting reasonable performance and persistence. A mix of MaxQ fescue and Persist orchardgrass, with a good white and red clover interseeded) has worked fairly well here as well as in southern middle and western TN.
Persist has far outlasted any other OG we ever planted, and palatability was way better - OG used to be the very last thing the cows would eat before they moved to a fresh paddock. Timothy only lasts a year or two here; for me, about the only thing it's good for is using to dilute out clover seed so that I get a more even distribution when broadcast seeding.

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Re: Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by HDRider » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:55 am

How persistent is Persist orchardgrass? Do you plant it in the fall or spring?
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Re: Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by bigbluegrass » Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:58 am

I have some Eastern Gamagrass. I don't hay mine, but I think it would make a very rough hayfield. An established plant has a crown/root that is about 4"-6" above the ground and about 1-2' in diameter. I suppose if you had a stand that was tight enough, maybe the plants would be touching and that might even the field out some. None of my plants are that close together.

I rotationally graze mine and have never had a problem grazing it. When you run into problems grazing it is if you let the cows on it continuously. It has a rapid regrowth and recovery time. If you leave the cows on it, they just keep picking at it. Cows love the stuff until the freezes. My biggest issues with it is the cost and difficulty to establish it. The seeds are expensive and following the cold stratification instructions I have only been able to achieve about 10% germination. For the last few years I have been playing with some seeds to see if I can get a higher germination rate. So far, not much luck. I probably won't buy any more seeds, just because of the cost.
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Re: Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by DCB4 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:16 pm

bigbluegrass wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:58 am
I have some Eastern Gamagrass. I don't hay mine, but I think it would make a very rough hayfield. An established plant has a crown/root that is about 4"-6" above the ground and about 1-2' in diameter. I suppose if you had a stand that was tight enough, maybe the plants would be touching and that might even the field out some. None of my plants are that close together.

I rotationally graze mine and have never had a problem grazing it. When you run into problems grazing it is if you let the cows on it continuously. It has a rapid regrowth and recovery time. If you leave the cows on it, they just keep picking at it. Cows love the stuff until the freezes. My biggest issues with it is the cost and difficulty to establish it. The seeds are expensive and following the cold stratification instructions I have only been able to achieve about 10% germination. For the last few years I have been playing with some seeds to see if I can get a higher germination rate. So far, not much luck. I probably won't buy any more seeds, just because of the cost.
That 10% germination is discouraging. I knew it could be a real pain but that’s a number I wasn’t ready for. How long a recovery time do you usually allow it when rotating cows

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Re: Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by bigbluegrass » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:44 pm

I usually do a 30 to 60 day rotation in the summer. That is for the other grasses, just as much as it is for the Eastern Gamagrass. Eastern Gamagrass will be the first to recover, especially in the hot and humid summer weather we normally have. The stuff grows like crazy. Getting it started is a real pain. I have started trying to sprout the seeds wrapped in a damp paper towel inside a zip lock bag. That was when I realized I wasn't getting very good germination rates. The bag says it is 80% pure live seed. I can't get anywhere near that. Your mileage may vary.
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Re: Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by VaCowman » Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:39 pm

DCB4 wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:22 am
Bigfoot wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:32 am
I like to experiment with different forages. I have looked at/read about gammagrass several different times. I always turn away from it, because it won't stand up to grazing. If your just going to hay it, then thats a different story. How rough a ride is the field? I have no idea. Cant be much worse than a normal tractor ride accross a Ky field.
That’s very true I guess it really can’t get any bumpier! I’m starting to get the itch to experiment with some different things, KY31 was beat over my head like a 2x4 for years by grandad. I drilled a timmothy, orchard grass, non endophyte mix in a few spots this fall excited to see how that does. I’ve been doing a lot of research on this gamagrass as well as some sort of Sudan/sudex for hay as well. What have you come across that’s really peaked your interest as far as grazing? I’m a few years off before I’m ready to fully renovate pasture but it’s definitely on the horizon
I tried Sudangrass this summer with hopes of making dry hay, but had a backup incase I couldn't get it dry. Mowed it on July 15th and I'm convinced that in my neck of the woods, there is no way in heck you could make that stuff dry. With the cost of seed, I can't imagine it being economical to up seed/acre to get finer stems for drying. That being said, the stuff turned out some serious tonnage on the first cutting and I grazed the second cutting. The sudangrass was amazing! Cows LOVE the stuff. Being a rookie, I learned a lot about the crop. I should've started grazing second cutting MUCH earlier than I did. It was approaching 34-36" when I turned the cattle into the first 4 acre field. By the time they had it picked pretty clean, it was already going to seed. The second field (5ac, planted same time) was in full seed production and probably averaged over 6' tall. You couldn't see the cattle grazing it for about 2 weeks. There were 20 head of fall calving cows in this rotation and they stayed on the 4 acre field for just over 2 weeks, and were on the 5 acre (mature/full seed stage) field for nearly a month. I made 104, 4X5 bales at 60% moisture (wrapped hay obviously) and fed that for ~50d following removal from the fresh grazed paddocks. The first 4 acre field could've been grazed again, but frost came about a week after they finished up the last 5 acre paddock (hence the start of hayfeeding). It is expensive to establish and fertilize, but I feel like it really helped those cows rebound from calving. All of the cows were in a BCS of 6 or better at calving, and were in BCS of 6 at the start of the breeding season. I observed every single cow in standing heat within 40-45d post calving, INCLUDING wet 2yo's. Breed up appears to have been VERY successful, but will know more next week at preg check. I wish I would've done more "measuring" and made better notes, but again, rookie mistake. I also had a handful of yearling cattle that were in with the cows on the 5 acre paddock as well. I think this stuff really has a place for those of us in the fescue belt, especially if you are trying to get cows bred on the stuff. We've always done pretty well with AI, but it looks like we are going to be over 70% this year. It's worth looking at if you are wanting some summer forage, but I'd be cautious assuming you could put the stuff up dry. I have heard of some folks getting it dry, but I sure as heck wasn't remotely close to getting it there. Good neighbor saved the day and came and baled and wrapped it for me. The only advantage I see to a WSG would be overall cost. Yes, the seeds are HIGH, but you pay that once, up front, as opposed to annually with the Sudangrass. I think the millet could be a good option too. Seed is a little cheaper, but tonnage is a little less too. I may try the millet this year and just plan on grazing it instead of trying to make hay. It'll be a steep learning curve for me trying to figure out how much I need and how to keep it from getting ahead of me in a grazing rotation. Probably have to plant it at two different times to keep it in check.

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Re: Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by DCB4 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 5:42 pm

I tried Sudangrass this summer with hopes of making dry hay, but had a backup incase I couldn't get it dry. Mowed it on July 15th and I'm convinced that in my neck of the woods, there is no way in heck you could make that stuff dry. With the cost of seed, I can't imagine it being economical to up seed/acre to get finer stems for drying. That being said, the stuff turned out some serious tonnage on the first cutting and I grazed the second cutting. The sudangrass was amazing! Cows LOVE the stuff. Being a rookie, I learned a lot about the crop. I should've started grazing second cutting MUCH earlier than I did. It was approaching 34-36" when I turned the cattle into the first 4 acre field. By the time they had it picked pretty clean, it was already going to seed. The second field (5ac, planted same time) was in full seed production and probably averaged over 6' tall. You couldn't see the cattle grazing it for about 2 weeks. There were 20 head of fall calving cows in this rotation and they stayed on the 4 acre field for just over 2 weeks, and were on the 5 acre (mature/full seed stage) field for nearly a month. I made 104, 4X5 bales at 60% moisture (wrapped hay obviously) and fed that for ~50d following removal from the fresh grazed paddocks. The first 4 acre field could've been grazed again, but frost came about a week after they finished up the last 5 acre paddock (hence the start of hayfeeding). It is expensive to establish and fertilize, but I feel like it really helped those cows rebound from calving. All of the cows were in a BCS of 6 or better at calving, and were in BCS of 6 at the start of the breeding season. I observed every single cow in standing heat within 40-45d post calving, INCLUDING wet 2yo's. Breed up appears to have been VERY successful, but will know more next week at preg check. I wish I would've done more "measuring" and made better notes, but again, rookie mistake. I also had a handful of yearling cattle that were in with the cows on the 5 acre paddock as well. I think this stuff really has a place for those of us in the fescue belt, especially if you are trying to get cows bred on the stuff. We've always done pretty well with AI, but it looks like we are going to be over 70% this year. It's worth looking at if you are wanting some summer forage, but I'd be cautious assuming you could put the stuff up dry. I have heard of some folks getting it dry, but I sure as heck wasn't remotely close to getting it there. Good neighbor saved the day and came and baled and wrapped it for me. The only advantage I see to a WSG would be overall cost. Yes, the seeds are HIGH, but you pay that once, up front, as opposed to annually with the Sudangrass. I think the millet could be a good option too. Seed is a little cheaper, but tonnage is a little less too. I may try the millet this year and just plan on grazing it instead of trying to make hay. It'll be a steep learning curve for me trying to figure out how much I need and how to keep it from getting ahead of me in a grazing rotation. Probably have to plant it at two different times to keep it in check.
[/quote]

Thanks for this response! That really gets my blood pumping for some sudan. It sounds like it would do exactly what I would be hoping for filling the fescue slump during summer and getting a decent cutting of hay off of it. Did you go with a true Sudan grass or some type of sudex hybrid? Also if you don’t mind my asking about how much an acre we’re the inputs?

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Re: Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by Ebenezer » Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:34 pm

HDRider wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:55 am
How persistent is Persist orchardgrass? Do you plant it in the fall or spring?
It does very well. I fall plant.

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Re: Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by Ebenezer » Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:38 pm

We have 4 plantings of eastern gammagrass going on for 20 years or less. Different selections or seed sources. You can tell a difference on the persistence. It would shake out your teeth for hay. If I planted more I would plant the Highlander selection. It takes several years for some seed to sprout, it seems. I've bought treated seed, bought seed and treated them and have early planted untreated seeds. Germination was not 100% but also not 10%. I used a corn planter.

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Re: Gamagrass in Kentucky

Post by Cress27 » Tue Feb 18, 2020 8:21 pm

I’ve tried something new this year I sowed ky31 and perennial ryegrass in my pasture I’m excited to see how it turns out hopefully will get some white clover seed on soon if it will dry up.

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