Each spring cow/calf producer, Collin Hoffman, plants annual forages to meet his herd's forage needs.
"My cows prefer the annual forages to straight silage and if I hay early enough, it grows back in time for fall grazing," says the Leola farmer.
Planting annual forages early spring is an excellent way for cattle producers, like Hoffman, to take advantage of spring moisture to beef up forage production, explains Justin Fruechte, Forage & Cover Crop Specialist for Millborn Seeds.
"I have seen annual forage blends yield 10 tons of silage per acre," says Fruechte, of the high yielding forage option that provides livestock producers with an early-season, quality feed source.
Cool season forages can be planted anytime a field is ready. They will germinate once soil temps are optimal and will be ready to harvest within 70 days of germination. Fruechte adds that producers can reduce risk by planting frost-tolerant varieties.
Planting annual forages also gives landowners additional options for marginal acres which in the current commodity markets may not pencil out to plant to corn or soybeans. "They provide more forage than most pastures and they don't tie up acres like perennial forages," Fruechte says.