Field Day Features Unusual Forage

Andrew Granger, Rowntree, Jason E., Schultz, Bruce, Twidwell, Edward K.  |  10/23/2007 11:52:04 PM

During the Vermilion Parish cattle field day, Bryan Simon, kneeling, explains to farmers how he planted a crop of perennial peanuts on 12 acres. Simon plans to harvest hay from the plants in about three years. (Photo by Bruce Schultz) (Click photo to download larger image.)

News Release Distributed 10/23/07

MAURICE – Cattle producers got a look at South Louisiana’s possible answer to alfalfa during a recent LSU AgCenter cattle field day in Vermilion Parish.

More than 75 attended the outing, which included a tour of three farms and presentations by LSU AgCenter cattle and forage experts.

The final tour featured a 12-acre field near Maurice planted in perennial peanuts by farmer Bryan Simon.

“This may be our alternative to alfalfa,” said Andrew Granger, LSU AgCenter county agent in Vermilion Parish. “It will be just as good as or better than alfalfa.”

Simon said he planted the sprigs of vegetation in March, and he doesn’t expect to be able to cut hay from it regularly until the third year. He said he got the plant from a producer in Florida, and it was planted with a Bermuda grass sprig planter.

Simon said perennial peanuts, which produce little to no peanuts, are drought-tolerant. He has used polyethylene pipe to irrigate it. He said the species would be killed by a hard freeze.

The plant usually is grown in sandy soil, Simon said, but it appears to be doing well in his Simon’s heavy clay soil.

“Alfalfa doesn’t grow as a perennial in South Louisiana because of poor drainage, insect and disease pressure and hot dry summers,” Granger said.

Not much is known about weed control for perennial peanuts in Louisiana, Simon said. “We’re just playing it by ear.”

Producers also toured the Gilbert Bodin farm near Maurice where an herbicide test had been done to control weeds in Bermuda grass. The herbicides Roundup, Grazon, Journey and Maverick were used.

Dr. Ed Twidwell, LSU AgCenter forage specialist, said each chemical does well on different weeds. For example, Maverick, at a cost of $20 an acre, does well on nutsedge, he said, and Journey is effective against winter annual weeds when applied in February and March.

Dr. Jason Rowntree, LSU AgCenter cattle specialist, said cattle need trace minerals such as copper, but the price of the material has skyrocketed to as much as $700-$800 a ton.

“Dry hay won’t meet all of your cattle’s mineral requirements,” he said.

Rowntree said a study is being conducted to monitor cattle consumption of minerals from a trough. He said cattle consume less in the summer and increase their intake in cooler months.

Cows should be provided an increase of mineral supplements just before calving, he said.

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Contact:
Andrew Granger at (337) 898-4335 or agranger@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Ed Twidwell at (225) 578-4564 or etwidwell@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Jason Rowntree at (225) 578-3345 or jrowntree@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Writer:
Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

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