Monday, 6 October 2008: 2:30 PM
George R. Brown Convention Center, 371D
On-farm production of grains is a primary mechanism to reduce feed costs on organic dairy farms in New England. Fall-seeded small grains offer significant flexibility in cropping systems on these farms, but there is little information on yield potential when harvested as forage or grain. We conducted eight small plot experiments in Maine and Vermont from 2006 to 2008, to assess the impact of grain species and planting date on the yield of organic winter small grains, including wheat, rye, triticale, and spelt. Each grain was planted in mid-September and mid-October, 2006 and 2007. Soil type and climate varied depending on location. Early planting resulted in successful stands in all locations, for all grain species and varieties. However, the penalty associated with delayed planting depended strongly on species and soil type. The yield penalty was greatest for winter wheat (in some cases, resulting in 100% yield loss when harvested for grain), and least for spelt. Finer-textured soils generally resulted in greater winterkill when planting was delayed. This information helps organic farmers select appropriate species and agronomic practices for their farms.