Thursday, January 20, 2022

CONVENIENCE TRAITS… expensive way to insure a feed supply


Let us all agree on a simple fact:   Yields  from “Triple Stack” and “RoundUp Ready” varieties  are no heavier than from the same conventional (non-traited) equivalent.”                 

So why do we grow “Round Up” corn?    It makes a corn monoculture possible, year after year on the same fields (until the compaction forces you to a rotation crop).     And each year we do it over, it takes more fertilizer (and sometimes companion sprays) to get the same yields.    But we can do it all will only one set of equipment, so less overhead investment.

OK …   I get it, even though I also know that weeds proliferate and mutate herbicide-resistance from monocultural cropping.     The greatest yield of corn always comes from the first year after we terminated a mature alfalfa stand or pasture – each additional year of corn thereafter needs greater inputs to maintain yields, thus our profitability erodes.

You can make silage from Forage Sorghum at a fraction of the cost of corn.

Consider this:   it only costs about $25 per acre for KF Fiber-Pro 50 (BMR 6) Brachytic Dwarf 85-95 day Forage Sorghum seed, whereas RR Traited corn seed runs $85+ per acre.    This will yield the same digestible dry matter, harvested as a silage, as would corn silage.   Plus you plant and also chop this crop with the same equipment used for corn silage—but you get the advantages inherent in crop rotation, breaking some weed and pest cycles.     BMR 6 Forage Sorghum uses 33% less water and nutrients per ton of forage than you need to grow corn.

In economics they teach us that when involved in commodity production (and fed beef fits that definition) profits flow to the least-cost producer—not to the greatest yield.    In my lifetime it seems that the price of an 80,000-kernel bag of seed corn for silage has inflated by 500%, while the associated yield (dependent as it is on chemical inputs) might have increased by 100%.   In seeking maximum yields, we tend to increase our production costs.     But by rotating crops to generate the same feed volume, we can often reduce our costs.     This is a great example.

DO YOU GROW SILAGE TO FEED STEERS (or overwinter pregnant cows)?

Why not try this strategy on a few acres, and see what happens?

You will want 60 degree F soils to plant Forage Sorghum, so put your usual corn in the ground first; then on the problem fields that do not get ready until later, try the Forage Sorghum.   You can do either 15 inch or 30 inch rows – it will respond either way.    Because the leaf nodes are closer together, you will get a weed-stunting canopy to develop quickly, which also helps save more rainfall and dew from evaporation loss in hot summer.

Looking for a pasturable summer annual that feeds like corn?

BMR 6 Sorghum-Sudangrass crosses can do this job, planted the same way as Forage Sorghum

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