Hurricane Michael had a major impact on pastures and fences. There are several things that farmers need to remember when recovery efforts get underway.
- Pastures that were flooded will likely be severely impacted.
- Bermudagrass and bahiagrass pasture are expected to survive up to a week or more under flood waters
- Winter annuals that were seeded before the hurricane are unlikely to survive flooding.
- Once it is possible to get back into the fields, it will be critical to remove the forage residue by cutting and baling, and drill the winter annuals for winter feed needs.
- It is important to remove excessive residual forage so that the seeded annuals can emerge and growth without a lot of shading and competition for nutrients.
- Depending on the damage, it might be possible to graze off the residue, but dirt and contaminants are common in flooded pastures making forage less palatable for grazing.
- If the existing forage is lodged, setting cutters very low (1-2 inches) will be important to ensure removal.
- In Southern Alabama, it is possible to establish winter annuals until mid-November, but this will reduce the possibility of fall and winter grazing.
- The ELAP program will also cover losses to pastures, but flooding will need to be documented.
- Use an aerial map to log the timeline of the flood and when waters recede, as well as the number of days of grazing lost.
- If the last 30 days of growth of bermudagrass was left in the fields and lost for grazing, you can estimate about 3,000 – 4,000 lbs of grazable material per acre, which is approximately 100-150 cow grazing days per acre.
- You Extension agent or other advisor can help you determine how many grazing days were lost.
- Grazing days are reimbursed at a rate of $0.94/day regardless of livestock species.
Physical Damage to Fences and Grazing Lands
- Removal of debris, repair of land, and repairs fences may be covered by the Emergence Conservation Program (ECP).
- This program is designed specifically for dealing with cleanup following a storm and repairing damage.
- A field inspection by FSA is recommend to determine eligibility for that program.
- It is critical that producers experiencing a loss take good pictures and document the number of feet/miles of fence that were lost.
For assistance with any of the mentioned programs, please contact your local Animal Science and Forage Extension agent. This information can be found at aces.edu or by contacting your local County Office.
- Geneva County Extension Office: 334-684-2484
- Henry County Extension Office: 334-585-6416
- Dale County Extension Office: 334-774-2329
- Houston County Extension Office: 334-794-4108
This article was adapted with permission from a previous article by Dr. Matt Poore, North Carolina State University.
Prepared by: Leanne Dillard, Ph.D., Extension Forage Specialist. Auburn University Department of Animal Sciences and Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences, Kim Mullenix, Auburn University Department of Animal Sciences, and Soren Rodning, Auburn University Department of Animal Sciences. Dillard 18-3.