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Small Grains Lodged

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
July 15, 2015         
Source:  Dan Martens, Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties

Small Grains Lodged
By Dan Martens, University of Minnesota Extension

FOLEY, Minn. (07/15/2015) — Heavy rain and wind has flattened more small grain fields during the last couple of weeks. At a small grains plot tour near Marty and Pearl Lake in Stearns County on June 23, Regional Extension Educator Doug Holen offered some discussion about lodging and related small grain topics. The question was, “How does lodging affect yield?” Doug started with the notion that small grains will often come back up pretty well the first time they lodge, slower and not so well the second time, and it’s probably “down for the count” the third time. Past experience counts.

Lodging often comes with heavy rain and wind, where plants tip with the root systems in wet soil. When the grain is very tall and grain kernels are gaining weight, it’s more likely that they could be down for good with the first lodging.

Kinked stems will hurt yield significantly. Stems that are not kinked may try to turn up some, much like bent over corn stalks will. Yield can still be pretty good; but harvesting will be challenging.
Yield will be hurt worse if weather conditions favor serious leaf rust.

Lodged small grain is also attractive for armyworm moths as egg-laying sites. Army worms can cause a lot of yield loss. Armyworm moths can be carried in from the south in weather systems. Armyworms have been found in some areas of Minnesota. The size of worms can vary, based on when moths arrived and laid eggs.

Lodged grain, grassy field borders, or field areas with a lot of grass weeds can be watched more carefully for the start of armyworm problems. Armyworms don’t like to be out in the sun. So if you find feeding damage during the day, you might find the armyworms at ground level, maybe under or around clods of soil, soil cracks, or old crop residue.

Excess nitrogen can promote rapid growth and more risk for lodging. Consider nitrogen sources from excess fertilizer applied on the previous crop, legume credits from soybeans or alfalfa, and manure – in making small grain fertilizer decisions. Planting depth might be a factor related to lodging. Holen recommended planting from 1.25 to 1.5 inches deep for best root development.

This has generally been a very good year for small grains. Some small grains were planted as early as the end of March and had an ample amount of cool spring weather for good growth and tillering. There will be some very good small grain yields. Some small grain was hurt by soil being saturated for a long time during persistent rains.

Some people have cut small grain for forage feed. A recent caller asked about cutting lodged grain for a forage crop, rather than waiting to see how the grain turns out. That might be easier to answer if we could predict the weather. It also depends a lot on priorities for the crop in terms of forage feed needs, grain, straw or other possibilities. This caller shared that a neighbor tried cutting lodged grain for forage with a sickle mower-conditioner. He gave up and hired a neighbor to cut it with a disc-cutting mower-conditioner, and they did a good job.

In selling small grain forage from the field, the grower would like to get a return for the use of the land, plus their labor and costs of growing the crop. The land value could be looked at as what bare land rent would be. The buyer wants to know that what they pay for the crop standing in the field, plus their labor and costs to harvest and put the crop in storage. Then, is the cost economical compared to other options for providing feed for livestock?

The seller might think about a cost per acre. The buyer, for livestock feed, usually thinks about the tons and quality of forage harvested. It can be helpful to weigh a load or two from a measured area of the field. A sample can be tested for moisture and quality. People can also agree on a “guesstimated value” that is suitable to both.      

Calendar Note: Subsurface Drip Irrigation Field Day, July 22, 2015, 10 am to 2 pm, Russell & Sharon Martie Farm, ½ mile north of Hasty on Wright County Road 8. RSVP for Lunch or get more information by Calling Wright County Extension 763-682-7394.



Daniel Martens
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
(320) 968-5077
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