Wisconsin experts say switching from grain to forage worth considering

University of Wisconsin experts say farmers dealing with late planting issues and reduced crop insurance benefits might want to consider switching to forage instead of grain.  Economist Paul Mitchell tells Brownfield dairy farmers can look at either an insured or uninsured forage crop and take a smaller prevented plant payment.  “You only get 35% of the prevented plant payment, but you can take that and go plant a forage crop. The other option is, of course, if you can’t do corn then do soybeans and things like that, but soybean prices are really not there compared to what we would like them to be.”

Mitchell says another option is to establish alfalfa this year. “So, you get the full 55% of your guarantee for corn or 60% for soybeans, and then establish an alfalfa crop. You can’t harvest it or anything until after November 1st which is not like a real harvest date. No one is going to do that. And then next spring, you’ve got an alfalfa crop ready to go.”

Agronomist Joe Lauer says sorghum-sudangrass is a good forage option for many farmers now, but after July 1st, corn for silage is not a bad option. “You can plant and hit the first silage peak of corn silage, and that peak is right around the silking or flowering stage of corn and you can actually have pretty good quality with some long-season corn hybrids.” Lauer says yields have ranged from 4-6 tons per acre in this situation.

Mitchell says crop insurance coverage levels are dropping daily, and Mitchell says farmers should talk to their agents to help determine what forage crop options might work in their situation.

Mitchell says growers considering forage crops to sell to beef and dairy operations would be wise to lock in a buyer and factor in the high cost of shipping.

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