Greetings, My Fellow Missourians
It’s fescue Seed Harvest time throughout Southwest Missouri and our family like many others are busy combining fescue seed.
Our cattle ranch’s objective is to turn forage to cash. We do that by grazing cattle on predominantly fescue grass inter seeded with legumes. One of the fringe benefits of growing Fescue for grass and hay is it also produces a seed crop that can be harvested for a cash crop.
I wrote these comments last year and revised it again for this year;
“Grease under fingernails, skinned knuckles, and sweaty brows are what many fescue seed harvesters experienced this last week. Due to above average rainfall in May and June, the fescue seed matured about a week later than usual. Most fescue seed harvesters use older combines that corn, soybean and wheat farmers have nearly worn out and traded in for newer and larger machines. As a result, the older, smaller combines used to harvest fescue seed require a lot of maintenance and repairs. Nearly all my time was spent this week operating an old 1978 Model F2 Gleaner in 90 degree plus temperatures. Since the air conditioner in the cab no longer works, we just open the door and a window and hope for a breeze once in a while. The days start at 7 AM and end at about 9:30 PM. This has caused supper to be at 10 PM each night.
I write this to inform about the economic contribution that comes from the fescue seed industry. Since Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue revolutionized the home grass seed industry a half-century ago, homeowners across the United States have turned to this dependable, economical grass seed for durable, low-maintenance lawns. More than two-thirds of all KY-31 Missouri seed farmers balance raising cattle, growing traditional crops and producing KY-31 seed, all while facing the challenges of unpredictable Midwest weather. In Missouri, hailstorms and last-minute windstorms can steal a seed crop in a single strike. Fields that look fine one day can be lost to high winds the next. Even when weather and growing conditions align for optimal seed production, farmers only have a two to three week window, right before the Fourth of July.
A normal Missouri harvest of KY-31 typically yields between 50 and 60 million pounds of quality KY-31 Tall Fescue grass seed. Due to the current short supply of fescue seed, higher prices result when low supply meets high demand. Across the seed industry, at wholesale and retail levels, KY-31 seed prices are at all-time highs. The buying stations are currently paying 63 cents for wet and 65 cents per pound for dry seed right off the truck. With average yields of 100 to 300 pounds per acre, that pencils out to be somewhere between $60.00 and $180.00 per acre. This is good news for Missouri seed producers.
Upcoming events – Discover More on Route 54 is hosting the annual 100-mile yard sale on Labor Day weekend, August 30-31st. This will cover communities along US Hwy 54 from Nevada to Camdenton. They need sellers and bargain hunters to make this event a success! For more information on rules and locations visit https://100mileyardsale.wordpress.com/ or follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DiscoverRoute54/.