Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Forage Soybeans

Posted by romeethredge on September 18, 2015

I was surprised this week when asked to look at some soybeans , I got to the field and the grower, Brad Trawick, said he was growing them for forage.

 I said, “You mean for cow feed?”

They look real good. We have some photos here.

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Forage soybeans are typically harvested for hay or silage; however, they can be used for late summer temporary grazing. Since they do not regrow once defoliated, strip-grazing (or frontal grazing) is the most efficient use. Soybean forage is fairly digestible (up to 60 percent) and moderately high in CP (17 to 19 percent). Stem size can be reduced, thus increasing digestibility, if seeding rates of 90 to 120 lbs. of seed per acre are used.

Planting late-maturing varieties (maturity groups 6, 7 or 8) from early May to early June will result in forage soybean production best suited for high yields. Shorter periods of growth, such as part of a double- or triple-crop system, can be accommodated with early-maturing varieties. However, productivity is expected to be substantially less.

Dr. John Bernard,UGA Scientist, has the following advice.  Forage soybean can work as silage and the leaf loss is significantly reduced, but the sugar content is limited making it harder to get a good fermentation.  Certainly would benefit from using an inoculate when ensiled.

Soybeans has been one of those crops that gets some attention and then seems to fade away.  Some have had good yields but others have not been satisfied with the yield compared with millet or sorghum.

It’s good to get a forage analysis (CP, NDF, NDF digestibility, fat, and minerals minimum)

If used for hay it make a good hay that’s high in protein.  It’s  a challenge to let it dry enough so that it doesn’t go through a heat and even catch fire, but you need some moisture in it or you will loose the leaves and not get them into the bale. If it’s baled too quickly after cutting then it can heat up and the proteins can be bound and it won’t be as good a feed.  A hay preservative such as Potassium Sorbate may be used to help with this problem. Using a mower that crimps the stalk will help, too. The stalk is often the hardest thing to get dry.

Perhaps mixing an annual grass with the soybeans when planting to help get the leaves into the baler without loosing them on the ground may help.

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