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3/8/2010 - 3/14/2010

Wet Spring Forage Planting Considerations

Stephen K. Barnhart, Department of Agronomy
Spring hay and pasture seedings are normally done from late February through late April in Iowa. The extended period of wet weather and possible flooding in 2010 has many producers wondering when they can get their forages planted.
Can spring forage stands still successfully be plant? 
The short answer is – yes, into the first ten days to two weeks of May. The end of the spring forage planting season is limited by seedling development and growth into the summer months. Most forage seedlings are emerging and growing root systems into the top one to three inches of the seedbed during the three to four weeks following germination.
The increasingly dry and hot soil surfaces in late May and June increase the risk that the small forage seedlings do not establish. So, the risk depends on rainfall and soil temperatures from here on. If conditions turn normal or hotter and dryer than normal, the risk of late planted forage seeding failures increases. If late May and early June conditions remain cooler and wetter than normal, then later-than-desired spring  forage seedings may survive very well.
Planting later than desired, adds to vulnerability to erosion and weed competition. Keep cereal companion crop planting rates to half of a full seeding rate or less, and mow or clip new seedings several times during the early seedling development months to allow light to reach small developing legume and grass seedlings. Also scout for and manage potato leafhoppers in new alfalfa seedings.
What about skipping spring planting and planting the new hay and pasture fields in late-summer?
The success of late summer planted forages is set by both the planting window that provides for a six to eight week establishment time requirement for seedlings before the first killing freeze of the fall, and the necessity of adequate existing soil moisture and likelihood of average or better fall rain.
For alfalfa and other forage legumes, the seed should be planted by Aug. 10 for the northern third of Iowa, by Aug. 20 for the middle third of the state and by late August or the first week of September for the southern third of the state. Cool-season forage grasses can be planted a few weeks later in each of these zones.
The risk of stand failure is high if seed is planted in dry soil, and rainfall patterns for the remainder of the fall season are erratic.
Can purchased seed be carried over until fall or next spring?
Seed is perishable. Germination declines over extended storage time, and declines faster if seed storage conditions are warm and in high humidity. Certainly try to store carry-over seed in a cool, dry place. Even better, try to arrange for storage in a more desirable seed storage facility. If you do have concerns about the viability of carry-over forage seed, have a germination test done before planting and adjust sowing rates to compensate for any germination percentage losses.


Stephen K. Barnhart is a professor of agronomy with extension, teaching, and research responsibilities in forage production and management.

Crop Insurance Decisions Related to Delayed and Prevented Planting

By William Edwards, Department of Economics

In some years cold weather or frequent rains prevent tillage and planting from being completed as early as desired to achieve optimum yields. When this happens some adjustments may be made to the amount of coverage provided by Multiple Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) as well as other types of crop insurance. These adjustments are subject to revision each year by the Risk Management Agency and crop insurance vendors.

In an Ag Decision Maker Information File, I cover the producer options when crop cannot be planted on time  and the late planting coverage available on MPCI policies. As the deadline for purchasing crop insurance quickly approaches, producers should also review the Ag Decision Maker article Crop insurance decisions for 2010.


William Edwards is a professor of economics with extension responsibilities in farm business management. Edwards can be contacted at (515) 294-6161 or by emailing

Webinar Covers Spring Management Issues of Stored 2009 Grain

By Charles Hurburgh, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

In a presentation to the  Southeast Iowa Research Farm meeting March 4, current grain storage and management issues were discussed. I made recommendations for managing the 2009 grain at this time of year, when Iowa grain managers move from winter maintenance to spring holding.

This has been an extremely difficult year for grain storage. Corn was harvested wet and not all was dried because of dryer capacity shortages. The cold growing season decreased test weights, which naturally reduced storage life.

The webinar, which can now be viewed at, covers moisture migration, what to look and smell for when checking stored grain, and how to correct storage problems. These are things that need to be done now in order to handle problem situations that are growing in bins across Iowa.

This article was published originally on 3/15/2010 The information contained within the article may or may not be up to date depending on when you are accessing the information.

Links to this material are strongly encouraged. This article may be republished without further permission if it is published as written and includes credit to the author, Integrated Crop Management News and Iowa State University Extension. Prior permission from the author is required if this article is republished in any other manner.