June 5, 1999 | By: Mark Eclov

The rolling green hills of Kentucky not only project a scenic impression for thousands of visitors each year, these grass-covered landscapes emphasize just how important pasture and forage crop production can be to the state in the next century.

Kentucky currently has about seven million acres used for pasture and hay production. The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture recognized the need to enhance this important farm resource and has attracted a number of outstanding researchers who are intent on helping to make it a vibrant and lucrative industry for the Commonwealth's farmers.

"When you look at all of these things we are into such as pasture management, new grass and clover varieties, feed storage systems and grazing tolerance.... I think we will have some important things to say about forages that will help propel us into the next century." said Jimmy Henning, Extension forages specialist in the UK College of Agriculture. .

The fruits of some of their most recent research will be on exhibit at the Agronomy and Horticulture Field Day scheduled for July 15 at the UK Spindletop research farm located just north of Lexington, Kentucky.

Four different tours will specifically address the latest information regarding the use of forages.

Henning and Tim Phillips, UK grass breed researcher, are looking for varieties of endophyte free fescue, orchard grass and alfalfa that can be over-grazed and still come back strong in the next growing season. Some of the toughest varieties found so far will be on display in plots that have been intentionally over-grazed.

Another stop on the tour, hosted by Mike Collins, UK forage physiology and management researcher, will show visitors how hay is being ensiled in the field using plastic wrap. Henning noted that the process was developed in Europe and research work on the process began at UK four or five years ago.

"The major attribute of the process is that it lets producers, especially in the Ohio Valley, harvest their first cutting of grass and clover in a timely manner. This improves the quality of the hay and in some cases dramatically increased harvestable yields," said Henning.

Norm Taylor, considered one of the country's foremost experts on clover breeds, will be showing off some of the latest clover varieties that include useful characteristics such as less stem hair which produces a faster drying, less dusty livestock forage.

Tim Phillips will also be showing some of the grass varieties developed from native endophyte-free fescue that he has found in surrounding counties and at the UK's Spindletop farm.

"With Tim here, collecting all the best materials, we have an enormous advantage over other Ag research institutions in the ability to find and enhance the best grass genetics for our Kentucky farmers," noted Henning.

The forage tours are part of dozens of agronomy and horticulture topics that will be covered at the UK plant science field day which is held every other year on the Spindletop research farm. Local County Cooperative Extension Service agents can provide interested parties with all the details.

Contact: 

Writer: Mark Eclov
Phone: 606-257-7223

Source: Jimmy Henning
Phone 606-257-3144