Pasture & Forage Minute: Reviewing last year and planning for this year

Pasture & Forage Minute: Reviewing last year and planning for this year

Too much cold and snowy weather can make even the most eager winter enthusiast look forward to spring.  Once we dig out and are able to catch a breath, taking some time to review last year can help us when looking ahead to 2024.

How is your hay stockpile looking at this point in the winter?  We want to avoid having to purchase more this late in the game to make it to spring, but if that is the case, how can we avoid it next year?  If we decide to raise our own, annual forages can provide a quick yield. If this problem keeps occurring, maybe expanding grass or alfalfa acres is worth consideration.

Speaking of perennial fields, how did they yield last year?  Is it time to renovate grass or alfalfa hayground?  If we need to tear out an old alfalfa stand to give a year’s rest before a new seeding, we need to start planning now.  Even planning to interseed a grass field with legumes should happen quickly.

Maybe a full renovation isn’t needed, but some fertilization to boost yield would help.  Plan for soil sampling if it hasn’t already been done in the fall and figure out timing of applications now.  Remember not all plants grow at the same time of year, so the timing of fertilizer needs to be matched with your predominant species. 

Finally, as we get closer to the tax deadline, it’s worth looking at the overall financial standing of your forage operation.  Is new equipment needed?  Can the costs be justified?  We might even weigh the pros and cons of producing hay ourselves vs. buying it or having it custom-harvested.  This isn’t limited to the balance sheet, but labor, scheduling, and quality of forage all need to be considered.

While we might not appreciate the hardships, winter brings time to take stock of our current operations and plan for the future. Looking at current hay stocks, last year’s yields, and weighing out all options available may not be a task we look forward to, but it can make a huge difference in success for the upcoming year.

Listen to this and previous episodes of Pasture and Forage Minute here: