Meade County Extension Office
As we approach the end of “haying season,” I know most of you are like me wondering what you are going to do with the muddy messes in the lots and fields where you have hayed cattle. The timing to redo these sacrifice areas just doesn’t cooperate with our normal forage programs. Whatever forage we end up getting established is just going to be destroyed next winter if we feed hay in the same area.
I remember visiting a farmer eighteen years ago that was doing things “outside of the box.” He showed me, in June, nice green semi-weed free areas where he had been feeding hay the previous winter. As I took a closer look, my big question to him was, “Is that crabgrass?” That it was, and he said it works great. Naturally, my first thought was it looked great, but crabgrass is a weed. Several years later now extensive research is being done on crabgrass as a forage for livestock.
Crabgrass as we all know is very adaptable to our soils. Seeding should be done when soil temperature is at least 60° F, usually the first part of May. Seeding rate is 3-6lb./acre for uncoated seed and 5-8lb./acre for coated seed. Seeds should be broadcast into a firm seedbed. Seeding depth is 1/4” to 1/2”. If left undisturbed, grazing can begin when the grass is six inches tall around 40 or 50 days after sprouting. An improved variety such as Red River will yield a higher quality forage.
Crabgrass is an annual that acts like a perennial. It should be grazed like other forages so that it is not allowed to produce seed until the end of the summer. Allowing it to produce seed 2 or 3 weeks prior to the first frost should provide the seed needed for next summer’s crop. The following late April, lightly disk and, when soil conditions are right, a new crop of grass should emerge.
Research has shown that crabgrass not only yields an adequate amount of high quality forage, especially during the hot, dry summer months, but also reduces the number of unsightly weeds in these sacrifice areas. Therefore, you may consider sowing crabgrass in these types of areas. I am.
Any organization wanting to apply for Ag Development Funds (Phase I Tobacco Settlement Money) needs to have a completed proposal turned into the Meade County Extension Office by day, March 19, 2020, at noon. Proposal forms and guidelines can be found at: