Forage brassicas are annuals that can be utilized as pasture during the spring, summer,and fall grazing seasons. Forage brassicas include varieties of rapeseed, radish, turnip,swede, kale, and hybrids. They are quick maturing and can be grazed 60 to 120 days after planting, depending on species.
We use a blend of millet as our forage brassicas. The mix of two plants we generally use on wetter ground is a turnip like hybrid that doesn’t quite form a bulb, so this helps to break up the soil and absorbs water, as well as producing a large leaf structure to shade out weeds while the millet has a chance to grow and surpass the turnip hybrid, as well as leaving behind organic material once it’s done growing for the year.
This year we’ve experienced a very dry summer, thus the turnip hybrid took most of what moisture was available and kept the millet from growing. However, the sorghum sudan we planted in a few other fields, which likes dryer soils, did very well this year. Last year when the ground was wetter the sorghum sudan fields did not produce well.
We use these crops and mixes instead of corn to mix with our feed as we are grass fed and do not feed corn silage. This very dry weather year has been especially difficult on all our crops and they just haven’t been growing well at all. Our Field Operations Manager, James Spear, still cut the crops even though the quantity wasn’t there in hopes that they would grow back and also to try to keep the weeds from taking over.
We have had some rain storms come through over the past few weeks, but it has fallen so much over such a short time it tends to just run off versus a long drawn out rain that can really soak into the ground. Certain spots within the fields tend to retain water and are doing well, but the more hilly better drained soil is still really dry, so our crops are growing, but not as well as we would like them to.