crops can be a major concern during a drought. If planting
was postponed or plants didn't survive because of drought,
mid-summer planting may be necessary for adequate forage or
grain. You also may be concerned about feed supplies for next
year and, therefore, wish to plant additional crops this fall.
no one can predict the longevity of a drought. But you do
have options, and the knowledge that planning ahead is always
a good idea.
giving up on existing crops, examine your current crops for
silage potential. Corn, for example, may be the best forage
alternative available. Also, keep in mind the added labor
and cost of establishing alternative crops. Unfortunately,
there is no guarantee regarding yield or quality of alternative
crops as alternative forages. Test these forages and
use the data to obtain efficient use through balanced rations:
red clover, trefoil
or canning crops
crops. These generally should be seeded by July 15 and
only if moisture is available for germination and emergence.
sorghum-sudan and forage sorghum
(alone or mixed with sorghum-sudan)
- forage rape, turnips
- common, German, foxtail or Japanese
grain with field peas. These should be planted from mid-
cash crops. If you planted cash crops such as wheat
or corn, but drought is causing problems, you may decide
to replant. Some good alternatives are buckwheat and millet,
which can be planted in July. These are very short season
crops and both are high in fiber. Consider whether you have
a market to sell these two crops or whether you can feed
them to livestock.
grains. If moisture is available for germination and
emergence, you can plant spring grains like wheat, oats
or barley in August. These can be harvested until a hard
freeze, which usually occurs in late October.
rye and winter wheat. For the earliest harvest of forage
next spring, plant winter rye in September. It can be harvested
mid-May. Another alternative is winter wheat, which has
a higher forage yield but must be harvested seven to ten
sure method to avoid drought-stressed crops is to use irrigation.
Other management practices, however, can help reduce the risk
of drought stress.
planting. By planting early, you increase the chance
of having pollination completed before the driest part of
fertilization. Proper fertilization will promote healthy
plant growth and efficient moisture utilization, essential
for high yields in both normal and dry years.
weed control. Weeds compete with crop plants for water,
so controlling weeds will provide more water for the crop.
management. By maintaining a cover of residue through
conservation tillage or no-till, you can reduce the amount
of evaporation from the soil surface and conserve water
for the crop's use.
Your county agricultural agent
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in
NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder.