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Cool Season Forage Variety Production Update

Posted Apr. 30, 2003

This is a mid-season report of the small grains and ryegrass variety testing for the 2002-2003 season. Small-grain varieties and experimental strains again were planted at both the Headquarters Farm (HQF) and the Red River Demonstration and Research Farm (RRDRF). Ryegrass varieties and strains are being grown at the Pasture Demonstration Farm.

Two plantings were established at HQF on Sept. 18 and Oct. 17 and two at the RRDRF on Sept. 17 and Oct. 15. At the RRDRF, moisture was good and the early planting got off to a great start. At HQF, moisture was marginal in September and stands were delayed, which resulted in reduced growth for most of the fall. The October plantings at both locations were delayed by seven to 10 days and struggled to develop stands because of a prolonged period of cool, rainy and cloudy weather. In general, fall and winter forage production has been good at the RRDRF and only fair at HQF. Production was slowed by dry weather in January and by cold temperatures in late February at both locations.

This year, 72 small-grain varieties and strains are being harvested throughout the growing season for forage yield comparison and will also be evaluated for their grain production. The tests include 12 oat, 21 wheat, 15 triticale and 24 rye entries. The October-planted tests included 12 entries three varieties each of rye, triticale, wheat and oat. Both the early and late-planted tests include common entries so that we can compare planting dates for both forage and grain yields.

At the HQF, the Sept.18 (early) planted test plots have been harvested only two times for forage yield during the growing season March 11 and 31. However, the second-harvest data have not been analyzed and summarized and will not be discussed in this report. Total dry forage yields for the first harvest ranged from 545 to 4,243 pounds per acre and averaged 2,228 pounds per acre for the test. The top ten forage producers included nine ryes and one triticale. The highest producing varieties (does not include experimental strains) for each crop tested, along with dry pounds per acre are shown in Table 1.

The Oct. 17 (late) planting at HQF will not be harvested this year because of poor stands caused by unfavorable weather conditions.

At the RRDRF, the Sept. 17 (early) planted test has been harvested three times for forage yield during the season Nov. 19, Feb. 18, and April 1. Only the November and February harvest data will be summarized in this report. Overall fall and winter forage production at this sandy loam site has been very good. Oat stands were incomplete because of mechanical difficulties at planting and therefore cannot be analyzed and summarized this year. The total forage yields range from 2,055 to 5,692 (an expermental rye strain, therefore not in the table) pounds per acre with an average total production of 4,155 pounds per acre. The November and February clippings respectively averaged 1,742 and 2,412 total pounds per acre. The top ten total forage producers through the Feb. 18 clipping included nine ryes and one triticale. The highest yielding varieties for each crop tested are shown in Table 1.

The Oct. 15 (late) planting at RRDRF has been harvested only twice Feb. 18 and April 1. Cooler-than-normal temperatures and wet conditions in October delayed the late planting and reduced growth for the remainder of the fall and early winter. Through Feb. 18, the overall average total forage production for the late planting is only 42 percent of the same varieties in the early planting. The early-planted varieties produced an average of 1,672 pounds of forage per acre on the first clipping in November.

Thirty-six ryegrass varieties and strains are being evaluated for forage production during the 2002-2003 season. The fall growing season was certainly more desirable than the past two years at this location. However, the cool, wet conditions in October delayed stand development and growth. Intermittent dry periods during November and January along with cold temperatures in late February delayed overall growth. The plots have been harvested only two times March 10 and 28. Yields on the March 10 clipping date ranged from 104 to 1,726 pounds per acre with an average total production of 803 pounds per acre. The second harvest data have not been analyzed, but forage yields will be much higher than the first harvest. With normal temperatures and moisture, forage production should be rapid and plentiful through the spring months.

Detailed forage yield data and other details of the 2002-2003 small grain and ryegrass tests will be published and available in August.

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