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High yield

FSG 5060OG Orchardgrass provides bumper crop of haylage, hay for dairy
Story and photos by Glen Liford 8/29/2018


From left, veteran dairyman Jim Moore, who farms alongside brother Jack, son Chad, and son-in-law Clay Richardson, sowed 22 acres of FSG 5060 Orchardgrass last fall to supply haylage and hay for Rattlesnake Dairy’s 200 milk cows and replacement heifers.
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Jim Moore is reaping the benefits of his first bumper crop of FSG 5060OG Orchardgrass. The veteran dairyman, who farms alongside brother Jack, his son, Chad, and son-in-law Clay Richardson, sowed 22 acres of the prolific new variety last fall at the family’s Rattlesnake Springs Dairy near Cleveland.

“I followed Clay’s recommendations on it,” says Jim, who says the resulting haylage and hay will be fed to the dairy’s more than 200 milk cows and replacement heifers.

Clay, who serves as an agronomist and outside salesaman for AgCentral Farmers Co-op in Athens, recommended the FSG 5060OG due to its potential for improved stand resistance, early to medium maturity, and exceptional disease resistance.

“We sowed it at a slightly higher rate than the recommended 8-to-12-pound per acre rate,” says Clay, who notes that the field was sown using a diamond-cross pattern to ensure a thick, healthy stand.

Phosphorous and potash impregnated with AVAIL® were applied last fall at the rate of 0-80-200. Then in March, 60 units of nitrogen treated with Nutrisphere-N® were applied prior to the first cutting, then an additional 80 units afterwards. Another 60-0-120 application was made after the second cutting. AVAIL® Phosphorus Fertilizer Enhancer reduces the fixation of applied phosphorus, keeping more of it available for plant uptake. Nutrisphere-N® Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager keeps more nitrogen available for plant uptake and inhibits nitrogen loss through runoff, leaching, and volatilization. This helps contribute to higher yield potential and can reduce the amount of nitrogen that winds up in surface or ground water through runoff and leaching.

“We harvested 102 4x5 wrapped bales of haylage off that first cutting,” says Jim. “It’s just too hard to get it cured on that first cutting. Then we got another 69 4x5 rolls of dry hay from the second cutting. We believe the third cutting will be impressive, too.”

The Moores also occasionally purchase alfalfa hay from out West, adds Chad.

“Alfalfa hay is high quality, but expensive,” he says. “Anything we can grow on our own farm [such as the orchardgrass] is much cheaper.”

The quality of the farm’s own orchardgrass forage is good, too, he says. Samples of the second cutting were analyzed, and the results showed the hay registered an impressive 14 percent protein value.

The FSG 5060OG Orchardgrass was developed specifically for conditions in the Southeast, says Tom Bible, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative agronomy specialist. The genetics were developed at Allied Seed’s Tennessee nursery in Franklin.

“This variety has one of the highest disease resistance ratings in the university tests,” he says, noting that it responds well to careful management like proper timing for harvest and adequate fertilization. The maturity provides a “little earlier window” for harvest, he says, as “it doesn’t head out quite as early as some other varieties.”

The orchardgrass is just one segment of the Moores’ farm that encompasses more than 700 acres of beautiful rolling land. They have a milking herd of around 200 cows, and raise 200 acres of corn for silage and 90 acres of soybeans. They mix their own ration on the farm, using ingredients purchased from AgCentral Farmers Cooperative, including roasted soybeans from the Co-op’s new grain facility in Greenback.

Rattlesnake Spring Dairy has been operating on the historic farm since before 1900. The origin of its name comes from an incident where a previous owner killed several rattlesnakes that slithered from the cleft of a large rock near the spring. The tale has been passed down from generation to generation, and Jim says that though he doesn’t know for sure, he believes the site of the incident could be a large rock at the spring near where the family used to chill cans of milk in the cool water. The historic farm was also part of Fort Cass, a key location on the frontier lines and the site of an encampment of Cherokee Indians on the Trail of Tears.

Check with your local Co-op agronomy experts for FSG 5060OG Orchardgrass and other varieties for your pasture and hay needs.

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