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If the forage is tall enough, chop silted forage back onto the field to encourage clean regrowth. By the time farmers are able to run equipment on a pasture or hay field, visual assessment of forage species survival can be conducted and should be rather obvious.

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Whether the forage plants survived depends on three factors — plant species, time under water and how much of the plant was submerged. Some species, such as smooth bromegrass, orchardgrass, fescue and ryegrass, should grow through a moderate silt deposit less than 2 inches and can withstand several days of flooding without injury. Reed canarygrass can stand longer submersion than other perennial grasses; whereas, meadow bromegrass cannot tolerate any flooding.

Time under water affects the amount of oxygen available to the plant, which determines survival. Available oxygen is influenced by temperature. Fortunately, during spring flooding, cooler temperatures allow plants to survive longer under water.

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  • Flash flooding — as opposed to standing water — increases survivability because the plants experience less oxygen depletion in moving water than still water conditions. Also, plants with more leaves above water are more likely to survive. Eligible practices pertaining to pastures and hay fields include debris removal cleanup of woody material, sand, rock and trash on pastureland and hay fields and restoring fences livestock cross fences, boundary fences, and livestock gates.

    Producers with pasture damage or hay field damage are encouraged to contact their local Farm Service Agency Office to report the damage and determine if they are eligible for assistance. If the requirements are met, a formal application will need to be completed. Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Integrated Crop Management News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The questions Mueller has gotten most from livestock producers since the flood in mid-March is how to grow forage on flooded land and what other alternative options are available to them.

    Daren Redfearn, UNL Extension forage crop residue specialist, said many forage producers have contacted him, wanting to know what to do with sand on pastureland. It can be very costly to remove the sand mechanically, Redfearn said. But, at the same time, what plants could possibly grow with so much sand deposited on pastures?

    I don't think we really have a good answer yet on what to do. Another issue will be how much sand is out there and how thick it really is.

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    Some areas might have sand 4 to 5 feet thick, while other areas have a thinner layer. This inconsistent layer of sand will be a challenge to overcome, he said. The good news is, grass will grow again, but it will take some time, Redfearn said. In the meantime, livestock producers need forages. Growing annual forages could be one way to ensure this need is met both in the short and long term, he said.

    Redfearn said livestock producers in need of forages have a lot of choices when it comes to growing different annual forages. Certain seed might be more difficult to obtain, but generally, most of the seed is fairly available. Annual forages can be divided into two categories: cool-season and warm-season species, Redfearn said. Cool-season forages include small grains such as oats, cereal rye, triticale, wheat or barley. Brassicas are also cool-season forages and include turnips, radishes and rapeseed. Redfearn said the most common cool-season small grain is oats, which can be planted in the fall or early spring.

    Oats can be stockpiled, and the quality doesn't drop much, he said.

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    Brassicas can be planted in the fall or the spring, although production is higher when they are planted in the fall, he said. With it already being well into April, it is getting almost too late to plant oats or any cool-season annuals. Other examples of warm-season annuals are sunflowers, cowpea, Mungbean and Sunn hemp.

    Considering it is almost too late to plant cool-season forages, planting warm-season forages might be the best option for producers who lost pastures due to flooding, Redfearn said.


    Pasture recovery following flooding

    The planting window for warm-season forages is the end of May, and grazing or haying would be expected from late July through September. Before Aug. From Aug. Redfearn said, after Sept. After Oct. Annual forages have different feed values for livestock, according to Kristen Ulmer, UNL Extension educator in beef systems. Dovetailing on what Redfearn said, Ulmer noted planting dates are extremely important.

    In one study, Ulmer said, oats were planted in a cornfield after corn silage was removed on Sept. Ulmer said the oat biomass produced on the field planted on Sept. The feeding value of annual forages can be maintained during the winter and meets calf and gestating cow requirements for protein and energy.

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    Research has shown an oat-radish-turnip mixture planted on Sept. In one study, calves grazed annuals for 40 to 60 days after the field was harvested for both corn silage and high-moisture corn. In the study, calves grazing after the corn silage had an average daily gain of 2. Another consideration when grazing annual forages is metabolic disorders in livestock. Ulmer said all annual grasses can have nitrate toxicity issues. She said issues with prussic acid can be avoided if grazing isn't allowed until the crop is 18 inches tall and waiting seven days after a killing frost.

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    Grass tetany can also be an issue with lush, immature grasses, she said. The main concern here is with lactating cows. Log in.