For many growers who took a prevented planting claim, 2019 might have been their first foray into cover crops. There’s always a learning curve to go through, but sometimes it leads to new ways of approaching challenges.
Jerry Delaney and his family — who farm 1,200 acres near Lake Benton, Minn. — were in a tough spot this year on their purebred Hereford operation due to poor spring weather that resulted in them taking a prevented-planting claim on 400 acres. They had very little good feed to put up and were concerned about weed patches coming up, says an article in the Duluth News-Tribune.
So on acreage with fencing and water access they paid $25 an acre to have a mix of sudangrass, turnips, radishes and millet from Millborn Seeds planted in June. Jerry tells the newspaper they might have planted the cover crops too soon, as the plants got tall and overripe, then froze.
In fall they decided that dry haying the cover crop wasn’t going to work. So they tried silage bales, hiring a neighbor to cut the cover crop in early October and the wrapper came in the next day. Van Dyke charged $7 to make each bale plus $13 per bale to wrap it — a total of $20 a bale.
They have three white rows of baled cover crop, which they hope to serve as feed for 2 years, the article reports. Jerry’s nutritionist will probe them and analyze the bales to determine how to use them in a feed ration.
We’ve yet to see this story turns out in terms of feed value, but I think this shows that even if you’re faced with a tough management challenge with cover crops that having just a little flexibility can pay dividends.