I hope many of you with plans to plant oats or other spring small grains have been blessed with a dry stretch to get out in the field. For all but those in very northern Minnesota and Wisconsin we are now past optimal oat planting date. A good rule of thumb is to expect a 1% loss in yield per day when oats are planted after their optimum date. To counteract this you can increase your seeding rate by 1% for each day that has passed since the optimum.

And remember we will not have a shared learning call in May as I know you all will be busy in the field.

Happy Planting!
A key aspect of producing small grains that achieve market quality for test weight or germination is managing disease appropriately in your small grains. Dr. Emmanuel Byamukama, a small grains plant pathologist from South Dakota State, shared his expertise on this issue for our April shared learning call. The blog recap covers the year of disease management for small grains including when to scout, what to look for, what the key windows are for fungicide application and which fungicide applications have a positive return on investment.
Enterprise Budgets from Oat-Corn Years of Extended Rotation Show Profitability
One of the most common questions that I hear farmers ask when they consider planting a small grain as a year of their rotation is "what about profitabillty?" To help put some more solid numbers to this question we have taken some of the data provided by cost share participants in 2017 and 2018 to draw up enterprise budgets demonstrating short-term expenses and income for the oat and corn years of an extended rotation for both conventional production and transition to organic. The results show that with some key management choices small grains can be profitable!

Check out these enterprise budgets the Practical Farmers blog.
Last year I ran out of cost share pretty quickly, so if you're looking at getting some cost share for small grains in 2020 and want to hedge your bets by applying to multiple cost share sources - it's time to start the process of applying for NRCS EQIP funding, particularly if you're planning to plant a winter small grain in fall of 2019.

In this blog I describe how you can enroll in both practice 328 and 340 in order to achieve a competitive payment rate for the same practices PFI cost share covers. The application deadlines are different for each state but every state should be able to use the practices as described in the blog. Contact your local NRCS office for specific application and eligibility questions.
PFI Field Day: Hybrid Rye: Managing, Marketing and Feeding Livestock
June 13, 2019 | 220 N Industrial Parkway, West Union, IA

PFI Field Day: Using Small Grains to Protect your Bottom Line
June 18, 2019 | 1542 330th Ave, Dyersville, IA

PFI Field Day: Small Grains are Coming Back, Why and How?
June 26, 2019 | 2765 N CR 39, Fostoria, OH

August 15-16, 2019 | Wisconsin Dells, WI

PFI Field Day: Grazing Cover Crops & Building Community 101
August 22, 2019 | 6795 Illinois Route 100, Frederick, IL
Achieving Desired Plant Populations
Calibrating your grain drill is a key piece of controlling costs and maximizing yield in the small grain year. Here are some resources about how to calibrate your grain drill for small grains:

  1. The drill calibration and plant population episode of our rotationally raised video series.
  2. The planting rates short from our rotationally raised video series.
Seed to Soil Contact
Small grains are big babies when it comes to coping with uneven planting depths. Make sure you're set up for success through seed bed prep or appropriate no-till equipment.

  1. Episode 5 of our rotationally raised video series focuses on seed bed preparation and achieving target population and stand for small grains.
Be Ready to Fertilize
The optimal time to apply fertilizer to small grains to avoid lodging is before planting or shortly after. Make sure you're ready to apply fertilizer at the right time.
  1. The fertilizing small grains short from our rotationally raised video series.
  2. The blog from March 2017's shared learning call with agronomists on optimal fertilizer strategies.
  3. The blog from June 2017's shared learning call on Mark Ditlevson's fertilizer timing and rates.
  4. University of Minnesota's oat fertilizer recommendations.
Scouting and Disease Management
Maintaining yields and achieving market specifications like test weight or germination depend upon successful management of small grains diseases:

  1. Scouting and Disease Management Blog from April 2019 shared learning call.
  2. The disease management episode of our rotationally raised video series.
Looking for more? Contact us today!
Alisha Bower
Strategic Initiatives Manager
(515) 232-5661
Sarah Carlson
Strategic Initiatives Director
(515) 232-5661
Celize Christy
Swine and Poultry Coordinator