ROBSTOWN — With spring green-up thriving in South Texas, forage and livestock producers in the Coastal Bend area are invited to the Grass Grower’s Gathering to learn the latest in forage management practices, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialists.
The gathering will be held from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. March 22 at the Johnny Calderon Building, 710 E. Main Street in Robstown. The fee is $20, which includes a catered lunch. Seating is limited, so those planning to attend should RSVP by March 18 by calling 361-767-5223.
Three general Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units will be available for licensed pesticide applicators, according to Jason Ott, AgriLife Extension agent for Nueces County.
“Spring green-up is a critical time for forage production,” Ott said. “This is when winter weeds can rob forages of needed soil moisture, and when a good fertility program can help us take advantage of any spring rains we may get.”
The program addresses managing both issues, as well as providing forage producers a better understanding of grazing management and ruminant livestock, Ott said.
Topics and speakers include:
— Management of grassy weeds, Dr. Josh McGinty, AgriLife Extension agronomy specialist, Corpus Christi.
— Livestock grazing systems, Dr. Megan Clayton, AgriLife Extension range specialist, Corpus Christi.
— The ruminant digestive system, Dr. Joe Paschal, AgriLife Extension livestock specialist, Corpus Christi.
— Nutrient management for maximizing forage yield and quality, Dr. Jake Mowrer, AgriLife Extension soil specialist, College Station.
— Fencing operations, Gary Craig, San Antonio Steel Company, San Antonio.
McGinty will provide an overview of cultural and chemical control options for controlling grassy weeds, thereby improving forage quality and yield, Ott said.
“Timing and application strategies for improved effectiveness will also be discussed,” he said. “Studies show that every pound of weeds controlled can return 3 to 7 pounds of forage, making weed control in pastures an essential management tool.”
Clayton will discuss complementary livestock and wildlife grazing systems, he said.
“More and more, wildlife are becoming a larger part of ranch revenue and in many cases the sole reason for owning the ranch,” Ott said. “Dr. Clayton will discuss how livestock can be used as an effective tool in managing wildlife, and what types of livestock grazing management systems are most suitable for those ranches with a high wildlife priority.”
Paschal’s talk will explain the ruminant digestive system.
“Understanding its unique physiology will explain how the quality and quantity of forage consumed affect animal performance,” Ott said. “Dr. Paschal will be dissecting the various segments of a cow’s digestive tract and explaining their function and role in the digestion of forages.”
Mowrer’s presentation on nutrient management will address soil fertility and other practices to maximize forage yield and quality, Ott said.
“While fertilizer prices have decreased slightly from their high a few years ago, it is still the greatest input costs for most grass growers,” Ott said. “The rate of fertilizer application, method of application and time of application all affect its efficient use.”
The final presentation of the day by Craig will focus on fencing options.
“Fencing is a huge expense,” Ott said. “So, understanding the options available to the landowner to extend the lifetime of that investment is important. Fencing is also important in maximizing the efficiency in which livestock utilize the forage resources we produce.”
The Grass Grower’s Gathering is sponsored by the AgriLife Forage and Livestock Taskforce for Nueces and San Patricio counties and AgriLife Extension.