Forage producers meet to discuss pasture health

(03/03/21) ALEXANDRIA, La. — Be on the lookout for the dreaded armyworm that can devastate spring pastures, an LSU AgCenter entomologist advised members of the Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council at the group’s annual meeting held Feb. 26.

Sebe Brown said armyworm infestations can increase quickly.

“You can get a couple of generations in a month,” Brown said.

The best time to scout for the insects is when they feed at early morning and late afternoon. Brown recommended against relying on birds as indicators of the pest’s presence.

“By the time birds show up, it’s probably too late,” he said.

Brown said pyrethroids are effective but have little residual effect. He said the product Dimlin provides long-lasting action.

He also said stem maggots are becoming a problem on pastures in Georgia and Texas, but it’s possible the recent freezing weather may have killed any that were in Louisiana.

Dr. Matt Wellborn, of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, said several wild plants are poisonous to cattle. The plants include lantana, perilla mint, sicklepod, coffee senna, buckeye and acorns. Red maple can be toxic to horses, but not cattle, he said.

Pat Bagley, director of the Southern University Beef Research Unit, talked about projects at the facility, including a Brangus cow-calf herd that has year-round grazing on bahia, bermudagrass and millet. He said on-farm demonstrations also are being conducted.

Chad Kacir, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, gave an update on the Environmental Quality Incentives and Conservation Stewardship programs. He said the new administration is emphasizing climate change, and the NRCS programs work well to reduce carbon.

“Agriculture can be part of the solution,” Kacir said.

Cattle owner Harrell Pickett, of Calcasieu Parish, described dealing with the aftermath of hurricanes Laura and Delta. Work continues on his home in the Gum Cove community, and piles of dead trees remain on his property.

Pickett said he received help with fencing from LSU AgCenter agents Jimmy Meaux and Bradley Pousson, along with Dusty Pendergrass from the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association.

Ken McMillin, LSU AgCenter meat scientist, talked about efforts to develop cultured cell meat. He said researchers are working to develop meat in the laboratory as companies are increasingly offering plant-based meat substitutes. But he said a survey showed that 75% of consumers haven’t changed the amount of meat they consume in the past five years.

Insects are popular as an alternative protein source in Central and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. McMillin said possible edible insects in the U.S. would include crickets, mealworms and locusts.

Videos of the presentations will be available online soon.

3/3/2021 5:57:50 PM
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