By: Lorne Klein, PAg, Regional Forage Specialist
Because of the dry spring, the forage yield on many of the perennial hay fields is currently poor. Rain is in the forecast for the coming week and some producers may now be thinking of seeding annual crops for greenfeed.
Barley and oats are the traditional cool season cereal crops that producers have seeded for greenfeed. As seeding date is delayed into the middle of June and later, another set of crops to consider are the millets. Millets are warm season crops. They grow best when daytime temperatures are 32-35°C, compared to cool season crops that prefer 18-24°C.
Warm season crops are also more water efficient when both daytime and nighttime temperatures are in their favour. Results can be highly variable, but warm season cereals have the potential to produce 50-100% more dry matter on the same amount of moisture compared to cool season cereals.
A demonstration at Estevan in 2010 compared Golden German millet, Prosso millet, barley and oats seeded June 28. Due to the late seeding date and often humid weather during that summer, the barley and oats had significant disease pressure. At greenfeed harvest, the dry matter yields for the crops were:
- Golden German millet – 4552 lbs/ac
- Prosso millet – 3490 lbs/ac
- Barley – 2351 lbs/ac
- Oats – 2043 lbs/ac
Golden German millet is a longer season crop than Prosso millet. It has the potential to produce higher yield than the shorter season Prosso when growing conditions allow.
If you plan to seed greenfeed in mid to late June, consider spreading the risk by including some acres of millet. For information on the agronomy of growing millet, call 306-848-2382.