|With wheat harvest ahead of schedule and hay supplies cut short by increased demand and fewer production acres, double cropping with cover crops might be the answer for many livestock producers, says Justin Fruechte, forage & cover crop specialist for Millborn Seeds, Brookings, S.D.
"Cover crops are a great way to extend the grazing season any year because they are cold tolerant and provide excellent late-season palatability and nutrition for livestock," Fruechte said. "This growing season many livestock producers are faced with some unique challenges – skyrocketing hay prices, reduced pasture health due to drought and weevil infestations in many alfalfa fields – making 2012 an ideal year to plant cover crops after small grain harvest."
Fruechte says the predicted early wheat harvest provides producers with a unique opportunity, because cover crops should be planted by late August.
For grazing purposes he recommends planting a mixture of brassica species – turnips, radishes, dwarf essex rape and new hybrids such as Hunter or Winfred which were specifically developed for late-season grazing.
Millet Makes Great Late-Season Hay
Fruechte adds that producers looking for a late-season hay crop should consider planting early maturing millet.
"If planted in July, a crop of German or Japanese Millet can be hayed by September," he said.
For growers interested in a hay crop that will also extend their grazing season, he adds that once hayed in September, Japanese millet will regrow giving cattle fresh forage to graze late into the fall.
To learn more about millet as a hay crop and double cropping with cover crops; and to receive recommendations for a mixture that will work in your specific soil type and growing conditions contact Fruechte at 888-498-7333 or [email protected].