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Pasture and Hay Field Day at Mistletoe Ranch

story by Randy Henry

After the record-setting drought throughout Texas in 2011, ranchers and producers now need up-to-date technical information to render healthy crops in 2012, with grass and hay production at the top of the list.

A Pasture and Hay Field Day was held on June 20 at the Mistletoe Ranch in Weatherford, Texas. The event addressed pasture and hay fertilization, fertilizer stabilization, weed control, grasshopper control, and weed identification.

More than 63 attendees from local communities came to learn specific methods and techniques for managing their hay crop, insect control, fertilizers, and new chemicals available in the marketplace came for the daylong event.

"I think the value of field days are that ranchers and producers get to see products in real world situations, and evaluate how that information might work on their property," said William Donham, District Conservationist in Parker County for USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Mistletoe Ranch encompasses 640 acres and is a NRCS flood prevention site built around a 32-acre lake on the property. The ranch operation has large pastures of grass as a crop, and was a good location for the field day while educating local producers and ranchers.

Jon Green, Parker County AgriLife Extension Service agent, started the field day by welcoming the attendees and delivering a presentation about the historic precipitation in Parker County.

"I wanted to present to the audience long-term rainfall data in Parker County over the past 120 years, and equip them with information so they can plan ahead for drought strategies if they compile their own precipitation data," said Green.

Green added that the average annual precipitation in Parker County over the last 120 years has been 32.32 inches, and more attention should be given to precipitation during the growing season than total precipitation.

"Most do not realize that January is our driest month, and on average February, November, and December are drier than July and August," he said.

Participants had an opportunity to observe demonstration plots of untreated and treated grasses, such as Bermuda grass and K. R. bluestem, while talking with conservation professionals about fertilizer application, seasonal spraying, and the best practices for a healthy and profitable season this year. The presenters included Jon Green; William Donham; Gerald Hobson, Range and Pasture Specialist for DuPont Crop Protection; Brian Cain, Retail Account Manager with DuPont Crop Protection; and Curtis Lytle, Field Representative with Helena Chemical.

The field day was co-hosted by USDA-NRCS, Parker County Extension Ag Committee, and Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Parker County.

Treated Plots Bermuda grass

During the Pasture and Hay Field Day held on June 20 at the 640-acre Mistletoe Ranch in Weatherford, Texas, attendees were given tours of treated and untreated demonstration plots such as this one with K. R. bluestem, which is also called King Ranch bluestem.

One standout factor on the Mistletoe Ranch that gave attendees beautiful views of grasses and hay production were the well-managed pastures like this one full of healthy Bermuda grass.

Jon Green Curtis Lytle (left)

Parker County Extension Agent Jon Green welcomed all 63 attendees to the field day with an informative discussion about the history of average annual precipitation over the past 120 years in the county.

As a group of attendees looks on, Curtis Lytle, field representative for Helena Chemical, addresses fertilizer stabilization within a fertility plot of Bermuda grass using Uran 32-00 with N-Fixx liquid fertilizer.