Air January 29 - February 2, 2007
This is Ag Outlook 2007 on 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte, Geary County, K-State Research and Extension Ag & Natural Resources Agent. We often hear about biotech crops and it so often seems like all they are talking about is insect resistance or herbicide resistance and stuff that may make the crop easier to grow, but why not changes that make the final product a better product? Well, they are working on that very thing with alfalfa right now. Lignin is a normal plant fiber. It is the form of cellulose that tends to give the most strength to plant stems. Obviously, lignin isn't very digestible in the ruminant's stomach. Alfalfa researchers have learned how to turn off the genes that produce most of the lignin in the alfalfa plant, without affecting how well the plant stands up. And as expected, the reduced lignin alfalfa is showing greater digestibility. Trials are under way right now with dairy animals studying performance of the animals to the reduced lignin alfalfa. Assuming everything goes as expected, we could see reduced lignin alfalfa on the market by 2012. One of the problems with alfalfa is that it is broken down so quickly in the gut of the animal that some of it's value is lost, and fresh alfalfa breaks down so fast that bloat is an issue. The US Dairy Forage Research Center is working on getting the alfalfa plant to produce tannins in the leaves and stems. The tannin binds to the proteins in the plant and reduce how fast it is broken down in the stomach. The early results show that the tannin enhanced alfalfa is non bloating, decreases protein supplement costs for the dairy by 60% and decreases nitrogen losses to the environment by 25%. Just two of the ways that biotech research is giving us better crops! This has been Ag Outlook 2007 on the Talk of JC, 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte.
Controlling Mullein in pastures
This is Ag Outlook 2007 on 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte, Geary County, K-State Research and Extension Ag & Natural Resources Agent. Several annual publications are now into the Extension office or available on the web. Many of you may not know the plant Common Mullein by name, but you'd know it the minute I pointed it out to you. This is the plant we see in pasture and rangeland, especially around feeding sites, that forms a huge rosette in the fall of thick, hairy, velvety soft leaves and then shoots up a big seed stalk in the spring with hundreds of little yellow flowers. The plant dies, but the dried up seed stalk will hang around the rest of the year. For whatever reason, common mullein is increasing across the central Great Plains. The plant produces thousands of tiny black seeds, and the seeds can live 30 years or longer in the soil. The plant is very adaptable and can live in shallow soils, rocky soils dry conditions, almost anywhere. Because of the hairy/fuzzy leaves it becomes a very difficult plant to control and if you have a patch that is well established, even though it lives for just one year, it can be a problem. Many of the best herbicides have been evaluated and even the best of the best don't provide perfect control. Fall treatments do work better, but you can treat in April when the plants are bolting with fairly good success. Some of the products that I would recommend include ForeFront, metsulfuron - which is sold as either cimarron or Escort XP, Milestone or Mesulfuron plus weedmaster. It is also very critical to use a non-ionic surfactant to help the herbicide get down through those hairs to the actual leaf surface. For fall treatment, any of these plus picloram, aka, Tordon. The tordon gives the added benefit of systemic control through soil uptake. This has been Ag Outlook 2007 on the Talk of JC, 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte.
Fertilization of cool season grass pastures
This is Ag Outlook 2007 on 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte, Geary County, K-State Research and Extension Ag & Natural Resources Agent. The past few years have not been great for brome grass production. Dry weather in the winter and/or spring, coupled with, at times, abnormal early heat has just killed the chance to get a good bromegrass crop. This year is shaping up differently. Good rain in late August brought the bromegrass out of dormancy and provided a good chance for the plant to rebuild roots and crowns. Now we've started getting some decent winter moisture. If you applied fertilizer to the bromegrass in the late fall, then this precipitation is doing a good job of taking it into the soil. If you had been reluctant to fertilize because of recent poor crops, there is still time and I would encourage getting it lined up so as soon as the fertilizer rigs can run, your brome fields get done. There is a good chance that you might have more residual nitrogen out in those fields than most years, but it could well have also been used up by fall growth. Most brome fields can justify 100 to 120 pounds of nitrogen and 20 to 40 pounds of phosphate. I've also started recommending also adding about 10 to 15 pounds of sulfur. People have asked why the sudden decision to use sulfur, and it's quite simple. Back in the 1950s and 60s a lot of the phosphate that was used was rock phosphate. Rock phosphate was rich in many micronutrients, including sulfur. By the 1970s, rock phosphate was being converted to phosphoric acid, other nutrients were pulled off to be sold separately and when we applied phosphate, we were ONLY applying phosphate. That is no longer the case and as we remove the hay crop, the sulfur levels have been pulled down. Get that brome fertilized and then get the swather ready! This has been Ag Outlook 2007 on the Talk of JC, 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte.
Return to Radio Home Page
Return to Ag Home Page