I stated last month that this was the earliest spring that I have ever seen and that type of weather continues. Forage growth, soil temperatures and even mushrooms are all early this year. The warm weather and soil have many producers scratching their head trying to figure out what is best to do. Weather patterns are certainly a lot different than they were last year and at least for the moment, it is a dry spring.
Forage growth is just exploding! It is at least three weeks early in most of the state and pushing us in making decisions about getting livestock grazing earlier than ever on new growth. Forages seem to be denser than normal. Most of Indiana did not have the normal freezing depths this winter and I'm not sure that some areas ever did freeze up completely; that is most likely having an impact on the growth also.
Most pasture fields that had good residual left over winter and sufficient fertility have rebounded extremely well and are ready for some early grazing. It is advisable to make sure to not overgraze this early growth though. Early growth is always best to graze over quickly and move to the next allotment to leave sufficient new growth behind. Overgrazing at this point will often reduce density and open the stand with increased potential for annual and perennial weed problems.
Talking about weeds . . . I am already seeing a fair amount of poison hemlock in some fields and especially along road sides and low areas. Poison hemlock looks a lot like cow or wild parsnips but has purplish colored streaks and spots on the smooth stem. This plant is poison to both livestock and humans. I believe it was