USDA Rule Change Gives Farmers More Forage Options

By relaxing the prevent plant restricted harvest date, farmers have two more months to harvest forages from cover crops

July 9, 2019, 4:11 pm | Brian Lang, Erika Lundy

AMES, Iowa — Grain and livestock farmers can both benefit from the recent rule change by the United States Department of Agriculture, which allows farmers who planted cover crops on prevented plant acres to harvest those fields beginning Sept. 1.
With the change, farmers can hay, graze or chop those fields, and USDA also has determined that silage, haylage and baleage should be treated the same as haying and grazing for this year.
The adjustment allows farmers to harvest cover crops on prevented plant acres two months earlier than most years, which will be beneficial in a year when both grain and forage crops are limited.
Brian Lang, field agronomist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said most years farmers are not allowed to harvest their prevented planting cover crops until Nov. 1, which greatly limits choices of what crops would provide a quality, harvestable forage product at that time.
“Before, we were trying to guess when we should plant something that would be in good condition for harvest after Nov. 1, but now we have incredible flexibility, with more time for optimal harvest of a given forage,” Lang said.
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