If wet fields delay silage-corn planting until after June 15, northern New York growers may want to consider brown midrib (BMR) sorghum-sudangrass instead, says Jerry Cherney, Cornell University agronomist.

Field trials funded by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) evaluated the option of planting brown midrib (BMR) corn or BMR sorghum-sudangrass at late planting dates. The results show that BMR sorghum-sudangrass can be a corn silage alternative after June 15, and it doesn’t appear to have the sensitivity to stress that BMR corn exhibits.

Cherney cautions that the selection and field management of supplemental or emergency forage crops requires a thorough evaluation by each farmer. In some cases, he says, it may be more economical to buy forage compared to producing forage with a relatively high cost of production per ton.

If by mid-July a farmer can’t get to planting, other options might be considered, Cherney says.

“By mid-July it is time to forget about planting corn or sorghum-sudangrass and consider other options such as small grains. Small grains can fit well into the dairy feed ration. Winter wheat, for example, can be grazed in the early spring and harvested for grain or silage later.”

Of the spring-seeded small grains, oats and barley are the best options for forage. One of two new fact sheets posted in the Field Crops section of the NNYADP Web site at www.nnyagdev.org discusses the different management aspects of planting oats, barley, triticale and three small-grain mixes (Small Grains for Supplemental Forage). The BMR Sorghum-Sudangdrass vs. Late-Planted Corn Fact Sheet compares late season corn vs. sorghum sudangrass as a supplemental forage crop.

NNYADP is a farmer-driven research and outreach program specific to New York’s Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.