How Bad Is It?
What a year for livestock producers in our area record temperatures, and record drought. As we told you earlier in the year, on average 75% of our warm-season forage is produced by mid-July. Likewise, over 90% of our fall phase coolseason forage is produced by mid-to-late November. Therefore, for all practical purposes, what you see now is what you will have until spring.
The dry summer and fall last year, combined with this year's drought has set the stage for an abundant "weed crop" in 1999 due to a lack of forage produced this fall. Graphics on this page illustrate the high temperature/low rainfall growing season we've had.
The $64 question is, "What should you do, if anything, about all these weeds?" You may be able to afford an application of weed spray next spring, but I cannot tell you whether or not you will see a positive return on your investment. To answer this question, I would have to know how much extra usable forage you would grow as a result of spraying weeds.
If you expected to increase your grazeable forage by 25% and are stocked at a rate of one cow per 10 acres, then it will cost you $240.00 in chemical and application to add another cow.
For example, let's say you have four cows grazing 40 acres and you feel an application of 2,4-D will increase forage production by 25%. At $6.00/acre (chemical plus application), it will cost you $240.00 to add that fifth cow on 40 acres.
Also, there are a couple of other problems we might have to contend with next spring, and these are armyworms and grasshoppers. If we have another dry April and May, these problems will even be more noticeable.