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[Home]Newsletter 2005 ] Field and Feedlot ] Stakeholder Report ] Soybean Aphid ] Soybean Rust ] Special Topics ] Crop Modeling ] Weather Data ] Yield Trials ] IA Crop Stats ] Subsoil H20 ][ISU Extension][IA State University]

Todd Vagts
Iowa State University Extension
Field Crops Specialist
1240 D. Heires Avenue 
Carroll, IA 51401 
Office: 712-792-2364; Cell: 712-249-6025;  Fax: 712-792-2366

Soybeans for hay or silage

Many areas in west and northwest Iowa have been suffering from lack of moisture for several weeks. This has occurred at a criticle time in soybean development as the bean plant attempts to fill and develop seed. Monitoring the development of soybeans through seed fill will be important to determine how the crop is harvested. In areas that have not received rainfall, pasture grasses and alfalfa have become short. Winter supplies of feed may also be short unless rainfall comes within the next few weeks. Utilizing soybeans as a forage crop may be a better option than harvesting the crop for grain (assuming very few if any pods contain seed). When harvested for hay or silage, special considerations need to be made.

  • First and foremost, determine how the greatest value of the soybean crop attained, by grain or through forage. This decision would have to be made on an individual field and farm basis.
  • The feed value of a soybean plant is quite high, equivalent to early bloom alfalfa.
  • Baling the soybean crop is tricky; the stems do not dry well while the leaves shatter very easily. Rake only if absolutely necessary. Harvest at R5 to R6 (beginning to full seed) if the crop is to be baled.
  • Harvest at R6 to R7 (full seed provides the greatest yield, but lower digestibility) if the crop is to be used as silage.
  • When harvested for silage, the high oil content in the soybean seed can cause fermentation problems. Mix the soybean silage with corn silage (1:2 ratio) to reduce this problem. The oil content should not be as much of an issue if few or no soybeans developed in pods.
  • Check the herbicide labels for the products used on the crop. There are herbicide label restrictions when using soybeans for forage.

Refer to the following web sites for more detailed information on harvesting soybeans for hay or silage or call me at the extension office.

Cornell University
Ohio State University
University of Nebraska

[Home]Newsletter 2005 ] Field and Feedlot ] Stakeholder Report ] Soybean Aphid ] Soybean Rust ] Special Topics ] Crop Modeling ] Weather Data ] Yield Trials ] IA Crop Stats ] Subsoil H20 ]

This page last updated on 01/26/05


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