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Chuck Denney, Narrator (UT Institute of Agriculture)
Get it cut, get it baled, and get it in the barn. What a difference a year makes in Lauderdale County. 2012 was brutally hot and dry. But this summer it’s been relatively cool with lots of rain. It means farmers like Larry McCoy can stock up on forage for his hundred head of cattle.

Larry McCoy (Lauderdale County Cattle Producer)
"I usually have up to around 500 rolls of hay every year or four-by-five bales. I had six this spring when I got through feeding. I have 270 rolls already put up off the first cutting, and I’m starting the second cutting, and with the rains continuing, we might get a third cutting.”

Chuck Denney, Narrator
A third cutting is a rare luxury for farmers. Mr. McCoy teamed with UT Extension Director JC Dupree to conduct a forage spray plot to keep weeds out of his field. Now McCoy has a pretty crop to cut, and that should get him through the winter in good shape.

J.C. Dupree (UT Extension - Lauderdale County)
“Of course we have producers that have four and five head, and we have others that have up to 500 head. Typically in this county you want to store hay for December, January and February, and you hope in March you get the spring rains and then you have the pasture growth.”

Chuck Denney, Narrator
Cattle producers are grass farmers first. They have to grow the food that grows the animals. Ideally farmers would like to grow forage 300 days of the year, and it takes warm and cool season grasses to do that. Beef cattle farming is Tennessee’s top Ag commodity, a half billion dollar a year business. Lauderdale County is known for its rich soils and high yielding row crops. But when the rain falls here, there’s also an excellent hay crop.

J.C. Dupree
“We usually grow high quality forage in this county. And again, the majority of that is going to be a fescue, clover mix, and we do have Bermuda grass in this county as well.”

Chuck Denney, Narrator
That good mix is growing well, and going from the field to the barn. Not all farmers necessarily benefit from a growing season with lots of rain. It can delay planting of row corps. But Tennessee’s forage producers are certainly enjoying the year.

OF NOTE: Tennessee has about 11 million acres of land in agricultural production - and more than half that is in forage.