Two crops in one year may sound tempting, and for some crop species is possible, but before doing so, producers should consider possible crops and compare the potential benefits with the drawbacks.
As a challenging 2019 row crop planting season wraps up in South Dakota, many producers are looking to plant cover crops on unplanted acres. One popular cool-season grass cover crop is oats. Most oats in South Dakota are grown as certified varieties, and it is important to be aware of the legal ramifications behind purchasing oat seed for use as a cover crop.
The weather conditions during the spring and summer of 2019 contributed to many challenges for farmers and livestock producers. For crop producers, one of those issues is crown rust in oats. The abundance of this crop disease has raised questions for livestock producers.
In last few years, interest in using cover crops has been increasing tremendously among crop and livestock producers in South Dakota. Growing cover crops following small grain is gaining more attention due to feasibility in cover crops species selection and also the time of the year where cover crops receive longer growing and establishing time than following row crops.
During the past couple of weeks, reports of aphid populations in wheat fields have slowly been increasing. Typically, the initial aphid populations are observed earlier in the season, but the 2019 spring may have delayed infestations.
Given the widespread wet conditions present this spring, there are many areas in winter wheat fields with both ponding and saturated (or waterlogged) soils. Producers may want to consider soil conditions and evaluate extended weather forecasts when deciding whether or not to retain a winter wheat this spring.
Crop insurance late plant dates are fast approaching for planting small grains in South Dakota. Late plant dates for corn, soybean, and sunflower are nearing as well. Producers will want to work with their crop insurance agent to explore planting options and reporting of prevent plant areas.
Feeding damaged wheat to livestock is one way to salvage value from the crop. Wheat can work well in cattle diets with some limitations.
Recent USDA data shows that during the past 3 years acres devoted to wheat production continue declining in both South Dakota and North Dakota (USDA, 2018). South Dakota wheat acres experienced a remarkable decrease of 31.5% during the past 3 years, compared with a relatively mild drop of 16.4% by North Dakota.
Cover crops have been gaining a reemerging acceptance over the last decade, with very few producers disagreeing about the potential soil health benefits of adding cover crops to their farming operation.