During the 2023 growing season, many areas of Wisconsin have been affected by the ongoing moderate, severe, and extreme drought conditions (https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/). As a result of inconsistent and limited rainfall throughout the state, in-season forage yields may not have provided the dry matter (DM) yields many dairy and livestock producers were hoping to achieve. Farmers who are short of forage may need to determine if they can purchase replacement hay at a reasonable price (https://cropsandsoils.extension.wisc.edu/hay-market-report/), or if they should consider a late-summer planted or spring forage crop to address their feed needs.
There are five steps every farmer should take first to determine if a late-summer forage crop could be a good fit for their dairy or livestock operation which are outlined in the linked article “Growing Successful Late-Summer and Spring Planted Forage Crops”. Once a farmer has determined a late-planted summer forage is a viable option, there are several different considerations one should take into account when selecting, planting, managing, and harvesting these crops. This article contains links to detailed documents and resources that can help you evaluate which species may best fit your needs based on yield and quality expectations.