Q&A: What are Some Forage Options for Hailed Soybeans?

Q&A: What are Some Forage Options for Hailed Soybeans? August 1, 2018

Q: What options are there for hailed soybeans as far as forage or baling?

A: Nebraska Extension Forage Specialist Bruce Anderson: After working with your insurance agent to get permission to do something to your field, the first thing needed is to assess the pesticide history of the field. In other words, what are you allowed to legally do? For example, one option is the bean plants remaining could be grazed, cut for hay, or chopped for silage. The Nebraska Extension 2018 Guide for Weed, Disease, and Insect Management in Nebraska has a section on Forage, Feed, and Grazing Restrictions for Row Crop Herbicides (pages 190-194). This list should be checked to learn if it is allowable to use your bean plants for forage.

Soybeans can be grazed with just a low risk of bloat. Hay can be made that is almost as good as alfalfa although the coarse stems, seedpods, and fragile leaves are more difficult to make into acceptable hay. And beans can be chopped for silage but often need care to get the right fermentation conditions.

Hailed soybeans
Several areas of the state were hit by hail in recent weeks, causing farmers to seek other uses for damaged crops. (Photo by Megan Taylor)

Another option would be to seed a new forage crop into the hailed-out beans. The Nebraska Extension NebGuide “Herbicide Options for Planting Forage Cover Crops Following Corn and Soybean” (G2276) lists herbicides you may have used and lists various forage cover crops that might be planted after the bean herbicide was applied. Sometimes the cover crop cannot be planted legally for several months after the herbicide was applied; other times it can be planted immediately. If the crop is not listed, legally it cannot be planted for forage use for at least 18 months.

Once you have identified which products are legal to apply, then you choose those that meet your needs for fall forage or forage next spring.