Economic Implications of Growing Native Warm-Season Grasses for Forage in the Mid-South
As many Tennessee producers are aware, cool-season grasses, such as tall fescue and orchardgrass, suffer from poor forage production during the summer months. This has led to the search for cost-effective alternatives to bridge this summer “forage slump.” Native warm-season grasses (NWSG), bermudagrass and summer annuals
are potential alternatives that can provide ample forage during this period.
However, economic analyses of NWSG in the Mid- South are limited to switchgrass, and only then for biofuel production. The Center for Native Grasslands Management has developed a Web-based, interactive, decision-support tool to examine various scenarios associ- ated with summer forage production. This tool can be used to examine the impacts of fuel cost, seed cost and planting rates, herbicide cost and application rates, and fertilizer price and application rates on the economics of grazing and haying NWSG, bermudagrass and summer annuals. The tool is based on UT budgets developed for forages (http://economics.ag.utk.edu/budgets.html). Using output from this decision-support tool and January 2011 current prices (Table 1), this publication offers insight into the economic implications of several inputs and outputs of NWSG as a forage in the Mid-South. Seed, fertilizers, her- bicides and fuel costs may vary greatly over time, so this publication is meant to serve only as a guide.
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