Agriculture News: Cold snap not as bad as expected

By Keenan Bishop, Published:

Hopefully everyone’s plants, trees and crops weathered the freeze without too much damage. One thing we learned from the late freeze of 2007 is that we sometimes tend to overreact.

That stretch of cold weather lasted about four days after several weeks of temperatures in the 80s. As UK Forage Specialist Garry Lacefield said after that freeze: “Two of many lessons of the last week: first, Mother Nature bats last and forage plants don’t read our books, otherwise more would be dead.”

Hopefully that’s the case this year.

What Lacefield and Ray Smith, another UK forage specialist, wrote seven years ago after the freeze probably applies now, too. After checking for damage they reported that they were very encouraged about new alfalfa and clover seedings. They reported that these plants are tolerant of colder temperatures.

Nebraska workers found that seedlings of alfalfa no older than the first trifoliate growth stage could tolerate temperatures in the low 20s. The number of dead or dying seedlings was less than expected. 

Many have seeded new clover or alfalfa stands so you may want to evaluate these. How many plants are enough? This is a good question and one many will be asking and attempting to answer in the next couple weeks.

Industry standards suggest that a new stand of alfalfa should have from 25-40 plants per square foot 30 days after seeding. The first year needs 12-20 plants, the second year should have 8-12 and the third year and beyond 3-8 according to the Forage Crop Pocket Guide (page 27).

If you have an average of 25 plants per square foot now or in the next week or so then that’s great. Lacefield and Smith feel comfortable with an average of 15-20 plants per square foot, uniformly distributed, under the circumstances. With Roundup Ready where you can control weeds effectively, anything above 10-12 should be OK. 

If a stand is too thin and you are convinced the majority of seed has emerged, then it is possible to seed more alfalfa into existing stands using no-till (allelopathy is not a factor in these new seedings).

Cattlemen cooking at Derby celebration

The Franklin County Cattlemen’s Association will be grilling again on Derby Day (May 3) for the Governor’s Downtown Derby Celebration. There will be entertainment as well as booths and displays. The celebration is good family fun and is over in time to head to Churchill or back to the house to watch the races on TV.

There’s a stage with entertainment at the Old Capitol plus plenty of other activities scattered around downtown on Broadway, St. Clair and Ann streets. Most of the downtown businesses are open as well. Visit for details.

This year the cattlemen will again be set up in the parking lot of the Old Train Depot beside the Frankfort Museum. Local cattlemen will be grilling and selling rib-eye sandwiches and all beef hot dogs from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Come downtown and enjoy a good meal while supporting local beef producers. 

Association members that still want to volunteer to cook or serve can call the office at 502-695-9035.

Cattle sale set for 2 p.m. May 4

The Louisville Jersey Parrish’s Derby Showcase, an all-breed sale, begins at 2 p.m. May 4 at Lakeview Park. 

The sale will include about 32 head. Jersey and Holstein semen will be available. There will be baby calves as well as bred heifers. 

For details contact Jackie Branham at 502- 545-0890.

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