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What to plant?

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marksmu

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Ive got a ranch in Anahuac, Tx - deep south east Texas within 3 miles of East bay...

Ive got 105 acres of my best draining land (we have alot of drainage issues due to being at sealevel) finally showing good soil tests. Hurricane Ike, severely salted our fields, and it took 26 inches of rain to get my soil on par.

At any rate - I was planning on planting Winter Rye in October, and then come March, burning off the dried up Rye, and then drilling a hybrid Bermuda grass...that was until I started reading the posts on Millet...The price of the millet is literally 1/3 the price of the Bermuda, the yield seems higher, and the fertilizer costs 1/5 the price...What are the downsides to planting millet? Is there a better choice than Millet or Bermuda even? Our fields all have a clay base about 24" inches below our top soil, we average about 54+ inches of rain/year, and on a normal year I would say our growing season is from mid March through October....

Ive got alot of extra pasture at the moment (39 cows on 780 acres) and so getting this field to be excellent is a priority as its directly in between my two currently improved pastures...both in bahia and I am in no hurry.

I am planning on not having to feed hay, so I intend to rotate the cows between pastures frequently...to keep the pastures at ideal heights.

Any suggestions on the best grasses? Drawbacks to millet? advantages to something else? I spoke to the FSA about it already, and they seem to think pretty much everything will work alright...they say, as long as you can get the water off, you cant go wrong with alot of sun and alot of water. The only crop they say they cant get to work in our particular location was Corn...there is an ongoing joke, that the only corn ever harvested in our area was done by the insurance company.

Look forward to opinions.
 

BeefmasterB

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Don't know anything about millet but wanted to ask if had considered Jiggs Bermuda? No seed involved. Just plant tops into moist soil.

Planting Tops Rather Than Sprigs
Planting tops is somewhat different from planting sprigs in establishing bermudagrass. Sprigs are underground roots that are dug and planted. Tops are above-ground, green, mature stems. Tops, unlike sprigs, must develop roots at the nodes to become a plant. For a top (stem or runner) to root, it must be mature, about 6 weeks old, and 18 to 24 inches long, and it must have 6 or more nodes.

Planting tops allows producers to plant throughout the growing season as long as soil moisture is sufficient. Tops have been planted from late April through September. Fall-planted tops must have enough time to form roots and become well established before frost, or they will die during the winter. Tops planted in the late spring or early summer have the best chance to survive.

Planting tops has also allowed producers to establish a nursery and transplant runners to larger fields as they mature. This practice can decrease the cost of paying for complete sprigging and can be done by the producer.

The new Tifton 85 and Jiggs are easier to root by tops than other hybrid grasses.
The following suggestions will increase the chances of success:


Plant 5 to 7 bales per acre.

Cut the tops with a sickle mower, bale immediately, and plant as soon as possible before the bale becomes hot enough to kill the grass. With small plantings, "pitching" the newly cut grass on a trailer and spreading is adequate.

Scatter and disk tops into moist soil before they wilt. Tops can die within minutes.
Pack the soil immediately(using a roller) around new runners to prevent excessive moisture loss and ensure good soil contact.
 
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marksmu

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my neighbor did Jiggs 2 years ago. It looks great, but he complains that it does not grow fast enough. It has virtually no weeds in it, but he said he only gets to rotate in twice per year. It could be that he does not fertilize at all though...he basically just turns out, grazes down, and moves on.

I had not considered tops though....aside from mowing my neighbors jiggs, where would one even get tops?

Im open to pretty much all options...It was just after reading the posts on millet here I started wondering if I was off track thinking Bermuda.
 

BeefmasterB

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Millet still might be a good choice but I don't know anything about it but I'm sure there are CT members that do!

Your neighbor would be the best choice for grass tops since it's close by but anyone else that grows Jiggs or Tifton for hay might be willing to sell you some green tops. I gave about $7 a square bale 3 years ago.
Or, if you prefer, you could hire out the planting to this guy or someone like him in your area:

http://www.stephendnaiser.com/

(planting into moist soil and before a forecasted rain is very important!)
 

Arnold Ziffle

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Millet might be a good choice for you, provided that your tract doesn't stay too wet. My one experience with it, planting millet and Haygrazer in fields side by side, was that the millet definitely doesn't like wet feet -- got an outrageously poor stand as compared to Haygrazer that was planted on the same day. But on that same day my uncle planted millet about a mile away, in rows and on somewhat sandier land, and had outstanding results. (all this being near East Bernard, Tx., which would't be too different than your environment). If cool, wet weather around planting time and early spring growing time is a concern, and it certainly might be in your location in a normal year, you might want to experiment with smaller tracts of a variety of millets and cane type grasses to see which does best in which conditions.
 
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marksmu

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Cool is never a problem - wet is almost always a problem. We get so much rain on a normal year, especially in March. I think I will plant a test plot of Millet next month in a DU field that we are working on right now. When complete we should have very similar drainage across both fields. Planting time would not be till early August if the field is completed on time, so hopefully it would still be acceptable to plant millet at that time? I dont want to spend alot and plant alot and not have it make it to seed...

Aside from Bermuda, what other grasses really thrive well in high moisture soil? We have Bahia that was planted prior to us purchasing the property and it does fairly well but the cows will completely destroy the patch bermuda grass under the bahia before they start to eat the bahia.


Thanks for the help
 

Steve Wilson

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Reed's Canarygrass is a high quality forage that loves wet conditions and will thrive in upland soils too. August would be a fine time to plant it up here in mid Missouri; you might have to wait until September down in Texas though. And you might want to check to see how well suited it is for your area. If you go the canarygrass route, be sure to buy a low alkaloid variety like Chieftan or Palaton.

Regarding planting hybrid pearl millet that late in the season, keep in mind that the shortening day lengths and lowering temps may not give you a very long growing season. Do you get killing frosts down there?
 
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marksmu

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We get a killing frost, about once every three or four years....we did not get one last year. In fact, we did not even get a freeze last year. The hurricane took care of all the killing for us.

For us, down here, though the days get shorter, its just downright hot all the way through September, and its just into the 70's again from the 95-100's until November or December...occasionally we will get a hard cold front make it down in very late September or early October...but most times, its in the 60s or 70s at night through October.

Im most worried about the wet feet.
 

Steve Wilson

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For the reeds canarygrass I would worry most that it will get cold enough for a dormancy period. It will certainly handle the wet areas but it needs to go dormant too. Check with your local extension service to see if reeds will grow down there.
 

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