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Master Cattleman Course begins soon

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Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season.
The Master Cattleman Course will begin on Jan. 22, 2013 at the Nelson County Extension Office in Bardstown. There will be a total of 10 classes every other Tuesday at Nelson County, Washington County or here in Marion County.
All classes begin at 6 p.m. and include a meal. This is an excellent course in basic management of a beef cattle operation. It is also a good opportunity to meet other cattle producers and share ideas about what works or doesn’t work on their farms.
We will be contacting those who signed up already, but if others are interested please let us know at the Extension office and we will get you the full schedule.
Once again the Marion County Cattlemen’s Association has agreed to pay fees for its members so if you are not currently a member it will be worth becoming one. The fee if you are not a cattlemen’s association member is $100 so it is certainly worth the $30 to become a Cattlemen’s Association Member.
The Cattlemen’s Association would like to thank its members who volunteer to cook, and all the people who support them by purchasing food at their events for making it possible for them to support educational events like this for Marion County farmers.
Last week I mentioned the Web Meeting to be held on January 28 at 7:00 PM on the subject of forages and beef production. Don’t forget to call the office if you are interested in participating at the Extension Office or at home on your own computer. Here is some information on how to renovate pastures that will be part of the meeting. Now is a good time to start planning the pasture renovation process. Most of this information was provided by Dr. Garry Lacefield at the University of Kentucky.
For most of our pastures thinned by the drought last summer, renovating with legumes is the best way to improve pasture quality and reduce the presence of weeds. Adding legumes to pastures and hayfields has several benefits including higher yields, improved quality, nitrogen fixation and more summer growth.
When renovating grass fields with legumes, have the soil tested and apply the recommended lime and fertilizer.  Legumes need higher soil pH and fertility levels than grasses.
Do not add nitrogen because it stimulates grasses, increasing competition with legumes.
Reduce vegetative cover on the soil to make it easier for legume seed to make contact with the soil.  The best way is to allow heavy grazing during early winter. You also can use herbicides to kill or suppress grass to help control competition. Be sure to follow the herbicide label directions for rates and grazing restrictions.
Select legumes based on the soil and your planned use of the forage. For hay, alfalfa or red clover usually is best.  A red clover-ladino clover combination works well for both hay and grazing.  Ladino clover, red clover and/or annual lespedeza are good choices for pastures.
Select certified seed varieties that perform well in your geographic area. The Extension Office has information on good seed varieties.  Also, be sure to mix a high-quality inoculant with seed just before planting. Apply a sticking agent to be sure the inoculant sticks to the seed. This inoculant of bacteria is what allows the nitrogen fixing qualities to occur.
Be sure seed makes good contact with the soil. One of the best ways to do this is to use a no-till drill.  Another method is to use a disk, field cultivator or field tiller. Tillage helps expose the soil so legumes have a better chance to germinate and grow. When planting clovers, loosen 40 to 60 percent of the sod. For alfalfa seeding, almost all sod should be loosened from the soil.
A simple, effective technique that eliminates the need for tilling the soil is to broadcast clover seed on the soil surface in late winter, generally Feb. 15 to March 15.  Soil freezing and thawing covers the seed.  This method doesn’t work well with alfalfa seed. Make sure you have already or will soon add lime and fertilizer as called for in your soil analysis. Seeding legumes into low pH soil is wasting money.
Controlling grass and weed competition is one of the most critical practices for successful renovation.  Many attempts have failed because grass was allowed to grow and reduce the light, nutrients and water available to young legume plants. Keep grass short by grazing or mowing until legume plants are 3 to 4 inches tall.  Then, stop grazing and mowing for several weeks so legumes will become well established. Afterwards, mow or graze the field on a schedule to keep legumes in good condition. 
For more information call me or come by the Extension office.
Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.