Drought-ravaged crops could make good source for forage hay

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN RICKEY ROBERTS
Even with our recent weekend rain, the drought persisted longer than any of us would have liked-and, coupled with high temperatures, is forcing some to deal with failed crops.

Although few farmers plant soybeans for a forage crop, it does have excellent forage quality as a hay. Many acres of drought-stunted beans are not likely to make a respectable yield and so it might be wise to harvest them as feed.

Protein levels for soybean-hay will be comparable to average alfalfa, or in the range of 14 to 18 percent. As an added bonus, since soybeans are a legume, they rarely are high in nitrates.

Soybeans are quite high in protein and low in carbohydrates, and so would probably make better hay than silage. But regardless, it should be put up before it drops very many leaves because after that the feed value deteriorates rapidly.

Failed milo also can make good forage, either as hay or silage. The primary concern here is with high levels of nitrate.

You will want to test milo either after it’s in the bale, or during the ensilage process. If the feed does have high nitrate levels-above 6,000 parts per million-then it should be considered potentially toxic. If so, it will need to be managed while the animal adjusts to the feed.

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