Cool Season Forage Alternatives for South Central Florida

Growing forages in the winter and early spring can be challenging in South Central Florida. With short days and limited rain Bahia grass and Hermathria grass go dormant at the peak lactation period of beef females, and if ranchers do not adjust to this fact they are often forced to purchase supplemental feed. There many benefits to planting cool season forages for your livestock such as the fact that they are usually more digestible than warm season perennial grasses, and can provide more crude protein for growing calves as well as lactating dams.

There are marked climatic differences throughout Florida, and this is why we took time to evaluate some of the choices provided by the Milk Check-off funded University of Florida Cool Season Forages Variety Trials.

Hardee County Cool Season Forage Plot. Picture credit: Jonael Bosques, UF/IFAS Extension.

During the fall of 2017 County Extension Agents planted 43 different cool season forage varieties in Hardee County. These varieties are the ones listed below:

Cool Season Legumes Tested

Durana clover grown in Hardee County. Picture credit: Jonael Bosques, UF/IFAS Extension.

White Clover – varieties: Durana, Nachez, Regalgraze, Ocoee.

Red Clover – varieties: Barduro, Southern Belle, AU Red Ace.

Ball Clover

Crimson Clover – varieties: Dixie, AU Sunrise

Winter Peas – varieties: Austrian, Whistler, Lynx

Balansa Clover – variety: Fixation

Persian Clover

Dixie Crimson clover grown in Hardee County. Picture credit: Jonael Bosques, UF/IFAS Extension.

White Vetch – variety: Cahaba

Blue Lupine

 

Grasses & Cereal Grains Tested

Triticale – variety: Trical 342

Oat – varieties: Cosaque, Legend 567, Horizon 306, FL 501, Coker 227, Feed

Big Boss ryegrass grown in Hardee County. Picture credit: Jonael Bosques, UF/IFAS Extension.

Rye – variety: Florida 401, Wrens Abruzzi, Kelly Grazer II, Elbon, Maton,

Wheat – varieties: Haas, Gore

Ryegrass – Earlyploid, Big Boss, Prine, TAMTBO, Jumbo, Attain, Florilina, Common Gulf Annual

 

Forage Blends

 

UF-Triple Treat – Crimson, White, Red

Pennington Clover Trio

Trical 342 Triticale/Clover-Winter Pea

Trical 342 Triticale/Earlyploid Ryegrass

These plants were evaluated for vigor and disease tolerance during February, 2018. Plant height was also measured. All plots were mowed once to 4 inches in height simulating grazing and allowed to regrow for three weeks before evaluating. Disease susceptibility was also evaluated for all varieties.

Performance test results:

For South Central Florida, these were the varieties/blends that showed better performance after exhibiting less disease and better overall growth:

Legumes

White Clover – varieties: Durana, Nachez, Regalgraze, Ocoee.

Persian clover grown in Hardee County. Picture credit: Jonael Bosques, UF/IFAS Extension.

Red Clover – varieties: Barduro, Southern Belle, AU Red Ace.

Crimson Clover – varieties: Dixie, AU Sunrise

Persian Clover

Winter Peas – varieties: Whistler, Lynx

 

Grass & Cereal Grains

Oat – varieties: Cosaque, Legend 567, Horizon 306

Legend oat grown in Hardee County. Picture credit: Jonael Bosques, UF/IFAS Extension.

Wheat – varieties: Haas, Gore

Ryegrass – varieties: Earlyploid, Big Boss, Prine, TAMTBO, Jumbo, Attain, Florilina

 

Forage Blends

UF-Triple Treat – Crimson, White, Red

Pennington Clover Trio

 

Fare performance varieties/blends:

These varieties/blends had a good performance but presented challenges associated with disease pressure:

Winter Peas – variety: Austrian

Triticale – variety: Trical 342

Trical 342/Earlyploid Ryegrass Blend grown in Hardee County. Picture credit: Jonael Bosques, UF/IFAS Extension.

Trical 342 Triticale/Earlyploid Ryegrass

South Central Florida is blessed with mild winters where producers can plant cool season forages for their livestock during the time when warm season perennial grasses are in dormancy. Selecting the right seed can save you considerable amounts of money and guesswork. Livestock producers can save money by planting these crops instead of purchasing hay for their animals during this time of the year. An added bonus to cool season forages is that these are more digestible than regular hay, which promotes more gains for your growing calves, through grazing or lactating.

More information on cool season forages can be found at: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/aa266. For more information on cool season forage production and pasture management, please call the UF/IFAS Extension Hardee County office at 863-773-2164.

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