Fall is on its way in South Dakota. However, with many flooded and saturated fields, some producers are growing concerned that there will be little opportunity to harvest silage before corn dries down past desired moisture levels or frost occurs.
Producers who raise both corn and cattle have the option of harvesting some or all of their corn acres as a high-moisture grain crop to be marketed through cattle. There are several advantages to harvesting corn earlier at a high-moisture content.
A key advantage to using commodities that meet standard specifications and are frequently traded is that it is very easy to establish an economic value that is accepted by most users. The marketplace sets the value of corn, and other feedstuffs on a daily basis, provided those products meet some set of standard specifications.
What do we do if it is time to wean calves, but the pen isn’t ready? That can be a real concern during wet fall seasons, such as 2019. Putting calves into muddy pen conditions is far from desirable, but holding calves on the cows deep into fall increases the risk of adverse winter weather and tends to pull body condition off the cows.
2019 has been a year fraught with challenges for ranchers across South Dakota. Abundant precipitation is usually a blessing, however, wet conditions coupled with a cool spring followed by warmer temperatures has caused another problem across the rangelands of South Dakota: ergot poisoning.
An integrated crop-livestock system can provide an alternative management strategy that benefits producer’s income, soil health, and the environment—all while increasing production.
The January 2020 South Dakota Crop Progress Report indicated four percent of S.D. corn acres remain in the field. Given the record rainfall of 2019, current snow pack levels and the 3-to-6-month precipitation forecasts, farmers will likely be dealing with a wet spring in 2020, thus making the removal of those acres important but hard to accomplish.
Current events have made decisions around crop options very difficult this spring. Field peas are an option that may have a fit for some producers.
Spring is a busy time for South Dakota farmers and ranchers with planting, calving, and other field preparations. Soil sampling and fertilizing pastures, alfalfa, or other forages might be overlooked.