- Author: Dustin Flavell
Samples taken in the SFREC's forage plot through the month of January (Clipped on Feb. 1) indicated 943 lbs/ac. This is 183% of the 34 year average of 516 lbs/ac. Our rain gauge indicates that we have received 28.14 inches of precipitation as of October 7th, only 0.3 inches shy of our total season precipitation average of 28.48 inches.
Will this productive start to the season mean a bigger peak crop? Perhaps not, looking at recent years that had similar germination forage values and similar forage production through January, this may not be the case. In the 2012-13 forage season (highlighted red) forage production through January was very similar. However, at the end of the forage growing season, peak standing crop was average. Looking at 2005-06 (highlighted yellow) there was a later first germination of November 7th, and near average forage production at 404 lbs/ac. It is more similar to this year, however, because the forage production through January was 983 lbs/ac, and that year ended with 139% of the average total season forage production.
In my 16 years of measuring production and reviewing the data, one thing is for certain. Predicting overall forage production in the early part of the growing season is difficult. Measurements taken in February, and even March, do not indicate a clear path as to how a forage production season will end up at peak standing crop. Click here to further explore over 30 years of forage production and weather data at SFREC. Looking at our production through April will certainly produce a clearer, more predictable picture of how this current year may end up.