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Cool-season Forage Variety Production Update

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Posted Apr. 30, 2004

This is a mid-season report of the small grains and ryegrass variety testing for the 2003-2004 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 (PDF).

Plantings were made at the RRDRF on Sept. 19 and at HQF on Sept. 26. Adequate moisture was available, and fall forage growth was good to excellent at both locations. However, very little moisture came from October until January, and forage production was minimal during the winter months. Cold temperatures in January and early February also contributed to slower winter recovery. Adequate to good moisture and milder temperatures in late February and March have resulted in good spring forage production at both locations.

This year, 84 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 13 oat, 27 wheat, 15 triticale, 27 rye and two barley entries. At the HQF, the test plots have been harvested only two times for forage yield during the growing season Dec. 8 and March 11. The second clipping was delayed about two weeks because of inclement weather. Total dry forage yields through the two harvests range from 1,146 to 5,725 pounds per acre and average 3,667 pounds per acre for the test. The top 20 forage producers included 18 ryes and two triticales. The highest producing varieties (does not include experimental stains) for each crop tested, along with dry matter per acre are shown in Table 1.

At the RRDRF, the test has been harvested three times for forage yield during the season Dec. 4, Feb. 20 and March 12. Overall fall forage production at this sandy loam site was good to excellent, but winter forage production was minimal because of low moisture. The December, February and March clippings respectively average 916, 617 and 1,105 pounds of dry matter per acre. The total forage yields range from 639 pounds per acre for a wheat variety to 4,992 pounds for an experimental rye strain. The average forage production for the 84 entries through the third harvest is 2,637 pounds per acre. The top twenty total forage producers through three harvests include twenty ryes. The highest yielding varieties for each crop tested are shown in Table 1.

Forty-six ryegrass and four prairiegrass (Bromus spp.) varieties and strains are being evaluated for forage production during the 2003-2004 season. The test was planted on Sept. 30 with adequate moisture for good stand development. However, the dry conditions from October through January along with colder temperatures in late January and early February minimized fall-winter forage production. The plots have been harvested only one time March 16. Yields ranged from 519 to 2,588 pounds per acre with an average total production of 1,632 pounds of dry matter per acre. The top five highest yielding commercial ryegrass varieties were as follows: (1) Graze-n-Gro 2,273; (2) Rio 2,248; (3) Jackson 2,148; (4) Ed 2,074; and (5) Brigadier 2,010 pounds per acre. With normal spring temperatures and moisture, forage production should be rapid and plentiful in the weeks and months ahead. At this writing (March 30), we anticipate the second clipping around April 1.

Detailed forage yield data and other details of the 2003-2004 small grain and ryegrass tests will be published and available in August.