April 2013

Field of small grain

Small grain silage may be a good option to fill a forage shortage this summer.

With hay and feed supplies being short this spring and the prospect for forage production from range and pasture this summer being below average, small grain silage may be a good option this year. Small grain silage from cereal rye, triticale, barley, wheat, and oats can provide a high quality forage source.

The following are some advantages of harvesting small grain for silage in a year like 2013.

  1. Small grain silage provides a potentially high quality harvested forage resource in late spring and early summer. This may be especially valuable with carry over forage being in such short supply and many cow-calf producers needing to feed cows due to ongoing drought conditions.
  2. A grain crop or annual forage can quickly be planted back into the ground small grain silage is harvested from providing a longer growing season with a second crop.
  3. There is reduced risk of losing the crop to hail or other weather related events when it is harvested as silage.
  4. The current price relationship comparing the value of harvesting the crop for grain and straw or for silage under today's market conditions may make silage an attractive option. This is especially true for diversified crop/cattle operations where feed is in short supply.

Dr. Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist has recently recorded a webinar titled Making Small Grain Silage highlighting things producers should remember when harvesting and storing small grain silage.