A Cowboy’s Faith: Tame grass for feed – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Tame grass for feed

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The brome is smoking which means it’s time for harvest.”

There’s a foggy haze moving across an increasing number of brome grass fields throughout Kansas. That’s nature’s alert that the tame grass has headed, is ripe, and should be harvested the sooner the better.

Time will tell, but it looks like this year’s brome crop will have an abundant yield.

Contrasting native Flint Hills pastures, brome grass requires considerably more management with weather always being a major factor in production.

According to college agronomist definition, “Brome grass is a common forage grass grown in North America. It may be used for hay, pasture, silage, or stockpiling. It is compatible with alfalfa or other adapted legumes.

“Brome grass is very palatable, high in protein, and relatively low in crude-fiber content. It has a massive root system and is a sod former, which can be used effectively for critical area planting and waterways.”

Not always the best student in crop science, knowledge about brome grass has generally come by learning from doing.

Nitrogen fertilizer is essential for brome grass production. Experience proves there is always poor yield without fertilizer. Soil testing increases fertilizer effectiveness when recommendations are followed.

Date of fertilizer application affects production, with some producers preferring fall treatment. However, more farmers fertilize brome in the spring, delaying expenses as long as possible.

There’s really no way to know what’s best, but spring applications must be in time for maximum effectiveness. Opinions are varied on what type of fertilizer is used whether liquid or granular. Sometimes one works better and other times the other is best.

Even the finest land operators cannot control the weather, but it is a very big factor in brome production. Seems like a cooler, wetter early spring increases yields yet that doesn’t always prove true. Abundant moisture is essential when brome is maturing, developing leaves, and shooting for a head with plentiful seeds.

While brome makes excellent pasture, it is often baled for hay and sometimes made into silage. Certain farmers harvest seed for their own plantings and for sale to others.

This ranch always needs hay, so the crop is baled into small square bales and large round bales.

Reminded of Psalms 104:14: “He makes grass grow for livestock, and for people to cultivate, bringing forth food from the earth.”

Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.




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