Plan Herbicide Use Now to Allow for Annual Forages Later
Selecting herbicides for your corn, beans, and other crops? Did you check to see whether they would allow for a cover crop, pasture, or hay planting in the next year-and-half?
Many of our biggest success stories with forage and pasture crops in recent years have come from using annual forages. No matter when you could use something to graze, including winter, an annual forage could be found that would work well if managed properly.
Many times a small grain like oats or rye fit the need. Other times it’s been a brassica like turnips, forage rape, or radishes. Once in a while we’ve used millets.
These opportunities may become limited, however, by your herbicide choice this spring. Many forages are affected by herbicide carryover, such as from atrazine. Often growers identify a cover crop or forage to plant, but the risk of failure is too high due to herbicides. This is also a problem for planting perennial grasses and alfalfa also are sensitive to herbicide carryover.
Legal restrictions on replanting and crop rotations also cause herbicide limitations. With many herbicides it may be okay to plant a cover crop, but that cover crop legally cannot be used as a forage.
How important is it that you keep your options open? Is there a chance you might fly rye or turnip seed into your standing corn later this year for extra fall pasture or plant triticale this fall or oats next spring? Is there a chance you'll want irrigated pasture or alfalfa production? These options may not be available if you use many common herbicides.
This spring consider whether you can control weeds and maintain the flexibility to plant any forage just by making a small change in the herbicides you use now.