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Greenspirit Italian Ryegrass & Crimson Clover

Dealing with Drought Conditions
in Your Forage Production System

By Rod Porter, Agronomist, Regional Coordinator – King’s AgriSeeds

Added September 13, 2016. Low forage inventory as a result of drought conditions is good cause to implement defensive and offensive strategies in your production system. First, assess what your current forage inventories are and determine what your forage needs will be, then implement appropriate steps such as the following:

Established hay stands

When dealing with drought stressed hay stands, keep the longevity of the stand a priority in your management. This will also help increase yields for later cuts this year.
Avoid cutting too short - this exposes soil to increased evaporation and robs carbohydrates from grasses.

  • Fertilize if needed - Potassium is a major nutrient used by legumes that also impacts winter hardiness. Consider fertilizing with sulfate of potash (for organic farms) this fall to build the strength of your alfalfa and clover.
  • Avoid cutting 15 days or less before killing frost - Later fall cuts are likely to be made this year since forage supplies are tight. Alfalfa and clover need at least 15-20 days of growth to replenish carbohydrate root reserves. So try to cut well in advance of killing frost or soon after killing frost leaving a 4” stubble.

Triticale Plus


Increasing forage supply quickly

Triticale Plus

Using some annual or fast establishing forages can help to increase forage supplies on a quick, short term basis. Below are things you can plant now to get more forage this fall or early next spring:

  • Forage oats will produce a high quality forage crop that can be harvested in 50-60 days or grazed in less. Plant at least 100lbs./acre for best yields. When considering the calendar and weather in New York, planting should occur by September 1st for harvest or by September 10th for grazing. In higher elevations and more northern areas, plant 1 week to 10 days earlier, and in lower elevations and more southern locations, plant 1 week to 10 days later. Other seeds could be planted with oats such as ryegrass, turnip, crimson clover, vetch or radish. Double Play is a combination product for fall and spring harvest (oats, triticale & ryegrass)
  • No-till plant fast establishing grasses in thin or weak hay fields or pastures. Fall is best time to establish new grasses in existing stands. Fastest establishing, highest yielding grasses are ryegrasses and festulolium but are not suited for dry hay. Any other grasses can establish great when planted in the fall but will be better suited for long term yields vs. fast, short term yields.
  • Winter triticale is an excellent choice for planting this fall after early silage harvest and cutting early next spring. For best results, plant 100+lbs./acre before the end of September in NY, and in higher elevations and more northern areas (northern NY and New England), plant 1 week to 10 days earlier, and in lower elevations and more southern locations (Pennsylvania and South), plant 1 week to 10 days later. Yields can reach 4 ton of dry matter/acre of high sugar, highly digestible forage. There are various combination products that work very well also: Triticale Plus (triticale, ryegrass), Soil Builder Plus (triticale, crimson clover, hairy vetch, ryegrass, radish), Ray’s Crazy Fall Mix (8 species mix for cover crop or forage).

Much more forage information can be found at