Soybeans that won't make a seed crop offer potential high-quality forage for beef and dairy producers. The decision to cut beans for hay won't be easy, say University of Missouri Extension specialists.
"It will be difficult to tell when there is no potential for a seed crop," said Bill Wiebold, MU soybean specialist.
"Waiting too late to cut soybeans for forage decreases feeding quality," said Justin Sexten MU beef nutritionist.
Joe Horner, MU Extension economist, developed a spread sheet for producers to put in their own numbers to figure value for forage.
Horner said the cut off for the transition from beans to forage is when yield drops below 10 bushels of soybeans per acre; and if forage provides one ton or more of quality dry matter per acre.
There is potential for tons of needed forage, Horner adds. The Missouri crop condition report showed 3.7 million acres of the 5.3 million acres of soybeans planted this year rated poor or very poor as of July 29.
The first step on the way to hay, Horner said, is a visit with the crop insurance adjuster. "Don't' cut anything, without checking crop coverage."
Rob Kallenbach, MU forage specialist, said soybeans now have the potential for a feeding value equal to full-bloom alfalfa hay. Currently that hay sells for $200 per ton. High quality alfalfa brings $300.