Ryegrass forage seed bred by UF/IFAS put its advantages on display after being donated to Florida Panhandle cattle ranchers suffering from Hurricane Michael.
The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) aims to aid Florida agriculture through technological and scientific advancements, and their UF/IFAS-bred ryegrass forage seed did just that, according to a Southeast FarmPress article. Last October, Hurricane Michael ravaged parts of the Panhandle, especially Calhoun and Gulf counties. The destruction interrupted planting for winter grazing. The donated ryegrass forage seed—called FrostProof by UF/IFAS developers—was part of a large-scale effort to aid Panhandle cattle ranchers, but it also highlighted the benefits of the FrostProof forage seed. See the details below.
Cattlemen Helping Cattlemen
After Hurricane Michael, cattlemen from all over the state—and outside of it too—came to help those in the Panhandle who suffered damage, according to the article. Ann Blount, a local rancher and UF/IFAS forage breeding and management professor at the North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy, Fla., said that “The Florida Cattlemen’s Association came up immediately to help all the livestock producers. They brought barbed wire, chainsaws, fencing supplies, fuel — all kinds of supplies to help.”
Similarly, helping hands came to remove fallen trees and repair fences. Donations poured in from within the state and without, including about 10 tons of the FrostProof forage seed.
Benefits of the Ryegrass Forage Seed
The FrostProof seed was bred to have several advantages, including:
- Producing a high-yielding forage for livestock
- Disease resistance
- Cold tolerance
- Doesn’t require a grain drill to plant
The donated seed came just in time, as the hurricane and rainy season disrupted planting and hay harvesting, and spoiled silage already harvested and stored.
“We had hungry cattle eating poisonous weeds, acorns and leaves off of fallen trees,” Blount said in the article. “That little bit of relief given with the ryegrass seed went a long way to help the people that needed it.”
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