In order to make this decision, it is essential to know the ways that forages are classified. Each forage species is distinguished as being a grass or a legume, an annual or a perennial, and a warm-season or a cool-season plant.
Please use that criteria to locate a specific forage species that will fit your needs.
These grasses can be used on fallow crop ground, or over areas planted to warm-season grasses to provide high quality forage during the winter. Just as with warm-season annual grasses, these grasses tend to be expensive, so their use should be limited.
Grasses in this category tend to predominate forage programs in Tennessee. Their long growing seasons and high quality make them desirable forage crops. Their ability to survive summer droughts vary, so stand life can vary tremendously between these grasses.
These grasses tend to be more drought tolerant plants, that produce forage between April and October. Little to no forage is produced outside of these dates. These forages have the potential to provide hay and grazing during the summer, when cool-season grasses are less productive due to drought and heat.
These Legumes make most of their growth in the winter and Spring. Although these species are termed cool-season, many continue to be productive throughout the summer. Periods of drought will reduce growth. These species also provide good, high-protein pasture.
The Legumes provide good quality forage and fix nitrogen over an extended portion of the year. These species will often naturally reseed themselves and can be an important, high-quality component of summer pastures. The lespedezas are high in tannin and may help reduce parasite loads.
The Legumes provide good quality forage and fix nitrogen over an extended portion of the year. These plants can provide a highly digestible, high-protein diet. The ability of these plants to fix atmospheric nitrogen makes them an inexpensive protein source. Warm-season legumes initiate growth in late spring after soil temperatures reach 65°F. Many of these species contain high levels of tannins, which can help reduce parasite loads.