In 2015, the University of Vermont Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program evaluated yield and quality of six summer annual forage species and five mixtures at Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, VT. In the Northeast, cool season grasses dominate the pastures and hay meadows farmers rely on throughout the season. With the onset of hot summer weather, these grasses enter dormancy and slow in production leading to what is generally referred to as the “summer slump.” Given this decline in productivity, organic producers still must provide animals with 30% of their dry matter intake (DMI) from pasture over at least 120 days of the year. These constraints, in combination with variable weather, can make it very difficult to produce adequate forage from these cool season perennial grasses alone. Summer annual species thrive in hot weather and can be grazed to help reach the pasture requirement or can be used as stored feed to supplement other sources. Recently, there has been a growing interest in utilizing multiple species to further maximize forage yield and quality. We compared six summer annual species alone and in three-and five-species mixtures to evaluate potential differences in forage production and quality. While the information presented can begin to describe the yield and quality performance of these forage mixtures in this region, it is important to note that the data represent results from only one season and one location.


Vermont, University of Vermont

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