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Extension Expert: Check For Soil, Crop Health Before Seeding Forages

10 Sep 2023

imageForage producers should carefully scout their flood-damaged pastures and hay fields for signs of crop health to determine if reseeding is necessary, a Purdue Extension forage specialist says.

"It's important to take note of hoof damage to pastures," Keith Johnson said. "Come back to the damaged areas often to assess if recovery is occurring. If there is permanent damage, plan on reseeding or renovating the field."

Johnson said producers should dig up several forage plants in pastures and hay fields to determine plant health. He also recommended washing away the soil on the roots and splitting open the crowns and taproots of legumes to see if the tissue is healthy or damaged.

"Check with your crop insurance provider and Farm Service Agency representative to see if it is permissible to seed annual forages in drowned-out pockets within a corn or soybean field, or entire fields that have plants present but not much aboveground growth that can produce grain," he said. "If seeding is permissible, review the labels of the herbicides you applied to the corn or soybeans to see what can be sown there without carryover effects."

Johnson offered these additional suggestions:

* This late in the growing season, avoid warm-season grasses and seed spring oat in mid-August. Include forage turnip with the spring oat if the acreage will be grazed.

* If grasses are nitrogen-deficient, apply about 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre. If applied to cool-season grass-dominant pastures, the nitrogen will help extend the grazing season.

* Graze animals on well-drained fields first to minimize damage to flooded areas.

* Test stored forages, such as hay and silage, for nutritional quality and consult a trained nutritionist to determine the proper rations for livestock. More information about forage testing can be found at


Farmers Hot Line is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.