Annual Forages for Dryland Rotations

Final Report for FW98-035

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 1998: $1,540.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
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Project Information


The participants wanted to learn how various small grain varieties would perform along with alternative crops and annual forages.

The demonstration plots of several varieties of winter wheat, spring wheat, triticale and barley along with alternative crops and annual forages were planted on the Vern Pluhar Farm south of Jordan, Mont. The idea was to gauge crop performance under local growing conditions.

The plots were seeded April 24, 1999, with a four-row hoe drill at 12-inch row spacing. The rows were seeded perpendicular to the direction of the previous seed crop to reduce the straw row effect on a single variety. The fertilizer - 60 pounds of 17-26-15 - was drilled with the seed, except for the peas, which were not fertilized.

The crops were harvested on July 5, 1999. But all of the small grain demonstration plots were hailed out in late July, precluding the gathering of further data for the rest of the demonstration and canceling a field day scheduled one week after the hailstorm

Still, the project provided information on crude protein (CP), total digestible nutrients (TDN), relative feed value (RFV) and total yield for the various crops, measured on a dry matter basis.

Austrian winter peas, planted alone at 65 pounds an acre, yielded 1,914 pounds per acre with 23.1% CP, 70.6% TDN and 200 RFV.

Otana oats, seeded at 32 pounds an acre, and Austrian winter peas, seeded at 65 pounds an acre, together yielded 3,363 pounds per acre with 17.1% CP, 70.1% TDN and 144 RFV.

Westford hay barley, seeded at 42 pounds an acre, and Austrian winter peas, 65 pounds an acre, in combination yielded 4,284 pounds per acre with 17.5% CP, 68.4% TDN and 131 RFV. Haybet hay barley, seeded at 42 pounds an acre, and Austrian winter peas, seeded at 65 pounds, yielded 4,559 pounds per acre with 15.1% CP, 68.8% TDN and 131 RFV. Otana oats, seeded at 50 pounds an acre, yielded 3,901 pounds per acre with 14.5 CP, 64.8 TDN and 104 RFV.

Westford hay barley, seeded at 42 pounds an acre, yielded 3,506 pounds per acre with 19.2% CP, 67.6% TDN and 123 RFV. Haybet barley, seeded at 42 pounds per acre, yielded 4,158 pounds per acre with 14% CP, 67% TDN and 114 RFV. Haybet hay barley seeded at 63 pounds an acre yielded 4,697 pounds per acre (feed characteristics were not available).

Winter triticale and Austrian winter peas yielded 10,141 pounds per acre with 10.5% CP, 66% TDN and 113 RFV.

The results give local farmers an idea of the yields and feed value from planting small grains with alternative crops and annual forages.

To date, it is not known whether any farmers have adopted some of the demonstrated practices.

In Garfield County, demonstrations continue on several fronts in an effort to find crops that can be rotated in the dryland production scheme. Among the crops being explored are alternate forages, forage combinations, grain forages, spring barley, Durham wheat, peas and lentils. Other trials are testing the winter hardiness of 10 winter wheat varieties as well the winter hardiness of triticale as a potential replacement crop for spring feed barley.

Because the plots were hailed out, the participants canceled the planned field day, which would have allowed local farmers to observe the project.

Vern Pluhar conducted the experiment on his farm just south of Jordan, Mont.


Participation Summary

Research Outcomes

No research outcomes
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.