Alternate Forage Crops

Alternate Forage Crops

Dr. Dan Undersander, Forage Agronomist, Paul Mitchell, Extension Agricultural Economist

The alfalfa winterkill losses are very high.  This problem is especially severe since the drought last summer meant less forage production and no reserves and many shortages.

We are generally out of alfalfa seed and short on oats and pea seed.

Generally, the options at this point are:

  1. Keep alfalfa and overseed Italian ryegrass immediately to increase first cutting yield, then kill stand and plant corn for silage.If the alfalfa and/or rye grass is harvested, you will not be able to insure the corn silage (or corn grain) planted afterwards.  You can still insure your other corn acres, it’s just the acres planted after harvesting forage that cannot be insured.
  2. Immediately plant corn for silage.The corn is insurable as corn for grain or corn for silage in the (winter killed) alfalfa stand, as long as the stand is not harvested this year.  You have until May 31st to plant corn as grain and June 5th to plant corn as silage to receive full coverage.
  3. Plant oats with peas for early season yield (mid July) followed by oats replanted in August.If you have insured the oats, you have to plant them by May 15 in southern  counties, May 25th in northern counties (ask your agent) to receive full coverage.

Sorghum-sudangrass and sudangrass is only recommended for north of southern Wisconsin if the farmer thinks summer temperatures will be above average.  BMR should be planted if seed can be obtained.

Other crops not recommended to enhance forage production; see yield and quality in attached sheet.

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