Managed forage production and tours are pretty common in the central and western part of North Carolina, but not so much in the eastern part of the state. Andy Burlingham with Pitt County Cooperative Extension is hosting an eastern forage tour in April:
“In the past there have been forage tours in the central and western part of the state, but not a lot has been done with forage tours in the eastern Coastal Plain of North Carolina. So, we’re offering an opportunity to go out to three different operations here in Pitt County and talk to the growers about what they’re trying out and doing to produce forage for both hay production and grazing.”
Burlingham outlines the three stops on the tour:
“First farm we’re going to, we’re going to look at using winter annuals, particularly looking at oats, and oat hay production for spring. We have a variety trial pairing winter oats, as opposed to some spring forage variety, which is high production for later, quality hay, we’re looking asom of the differences in those, production practices and yield volumes and such. Also, be looking at annual/legume mixes for hay production, and how those might fit into a crop rotation.
And then we’ll be going to two different farms looking at fescue production. The first one is using some newer endophyte-free varieties of fescue, for hay production, particularly looking at horse-quality hay. Talk about some of the opportunities and challenges of growing endophyte-free varieties of fescue.
And finally, we’re going to a cattle operation, where they’re using the novel endophyte fescue, for winter grazing and doing some stockpiling of that to reduce having to feed hay in the winter months.”
A lot of this tour is to show how newer fescue varieties can work in the Coastal Plain, where they’ve not been good performers in the past says Burlingham:
“You know there’s been kind of a history of low use, or reduction of use of fescue in our part of the state due to the old variety Kentucky 31 being poor performance with endophyte, or poor productivity and stand loss of the early varieties of endophyte-free. So, we’re kind of focusing on the newer varieties of endophyte-free that are more drought tolerant and stress tolerant, as well as the new novel endophyte fescues that are very well adapted, are very resistant to drought and stress, and still give very good animal productivity.”
Burlingham outlines the particulars of the tour:
“We’ll be April 16th down here in Greenville, North Carolina, here at the Pitt County Ag Center, we’re going to be starting at 11:30 with registration. We will have a sponsored lunch at that time, we plan to be on the road to the tours by 1:00. Should be completed with the tour by 5:00. We do ask that every one call into our office at (252)902-1709 to RSVP so we have a count for meals.”
Andy Burlingham with Pitt County Extension.