Texas AgriLife Extension and Research scientists offered several updates this week for forage and grain producers, including information on forage insurance, triticale trials and release of a new white clover variety.
DeDe Jones, AgriLife Extension risk management specialist in Amarillo, reminds livestock producers that signup deadline for the Rainfall Index—Annual Forage Insurance plan (RI-AF) is July 15 for the fall growing season – Sept. 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015, and Dec. 15 for the spring season – March 1 through Sept. 30, 2015. All premium payments are due by Aug. 30, 2015.
Even though recent rainfall has improved forage conditions, Jones said producers still may want to add “a layer of protection against drought” for annual forage crops.
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The Rainfall Index – Annual Forage Insurance plan, referred to as RI-AF, is a risk policy designed to provide livestock producers the ability to buy protection against losses due to a lack of moisture, Jones said.
Signup dealine looms
Signup deadline for RI-AF is similar to Pasture Range and Forage Insurance, or PRF insurance, which covers perennial grasses such as pasture and hay. RI-AF is strictly for annual forage crops, including but not limited to: winter small grains, such as wheat, oats, rye and triticale, and spring plantings such as sudan, haygrazer and millet.
Payment for either plan is determined by area losses, based on a grid system. PRF allows producers to insure only a portion of their acreage, but RI-AF requires coverage on all certified acres not intended for grain production.
Producers must choose a maximum of three two-month intervals per growing season per year. Insured acres are then spread between time periods, with no more than 40 percent of the acres placed in any interval.
Coverage levels range from 70 percent to 90 percent. Once coverage is selected, the producer chooses a productivity factor between 60 percent and 150 percent, Jones said. The productivity factor is a percentage of the established county base value for annual forage. Base value is a standard rate published by the Risk Management Agency for each county.
The Rainfall Index determines RI-AF coverage, Jones said. This model uses National Oceanic and Atmospheric Climate Prediction Center data and a 12-by-12-mile grid system. Indemnities are calculated based on the deviation from normal precipitation within a grid for the specific period selected.
New white clover
Neches white clover promises higher yields and earlier flowering and seed production than any other variety adapted to East Texas and the southeastern U.S. The clover, named after the Texas river, was developed by Gerald Smith, AgriLife Research plant breeder at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton.
“We’re excited about this clover because it combines a lot of traits that just fit our area,” Smith said.
Neches does well on the wet, loamy bottomlands of East Texas. Other white clovers do not flower profusely or produce much seed until at least early to midsummer. In East Texas, midsummers are usually hot and dry, and white clover stands often die out before producing seed and must be reseeded every year to reestablish a stand.
Smith wanted to develop a variety at least as productive and with as much disease and pest resistance as existing varieties, but that would flower and produce seed before the stand was lost in summer.
He said Neches fits the bill. In side-by-side demonstration fields with a ladino white clover, Barblanca, the ladino clover had one or two flowering seed heads per square foot; Neches had 20 to 30 seed heads per square foot.
Smith selected for larger leaves, which means high forage yields. The new release is the result of years of meticulous crossings and selection of plant parent lines that began in 2000.
Barenbrug USA was granted an exclusive license to market Neches in 2011, and has been increasing seed at sites in Oregon and California. “Neches should be available this fall anywhere Barenbrug seed is sold,” Smith said.
Jason Baker, Texas A&M AgriLife Research senior research associate in Amarillo, reported on triticale variety trials and noted that triticale, a cross between wheat and rye, offers Rolling Plains producers many advantages as a forage, compared to wheat or oats.
Baker has been conducting trails since 2002 in both the Lockett and Chillicothe areas.
“We’ve been working several years to make better varieties for the Rolling Plains,” he said. “We don’t see triticale competing for wheat acres. It’s a complement to dual-purpose wheat.”
He says triticale may be a better fit for grazing, leaving wheat available for grain harvest. Producers who routinely plant wheat for grazing or for hay may benefit from adding triticale to the mix. “You can plant the triticale earlier, turn cattle in and save wheat for grain. If you have a lot of growth, you can graze the wheat some but use the triticale as your main focus for grazing.”
Baker is screening about 20 experimental lines and 100 commercially available triticale lines in breeding trials at Vernon. He has eight years of forage yield data comparing triticale, wheat, oats and barley.
Triticale yields have been impressive. The most recent three-year total average show triticale varieties yielding 2.09 to 2.11 tons per acre dry matter, compared to 1.69 to 1.93 tons per acre for wheat, 1.61 to 1.79 tons per acre for oats, and 1.54 to 2.01 tons per acre on barley.
Triticale also exhibits stress tolerance. In 2014, the triticale – after three clippings – yielded considerably better under drought and late freeze conditions. The triticale yields were 1.92 to 2 tons per acre compared to wheat at 1.26 to 1.58 tons per acre, oats at 0.88 to 1.17 tons per acre and barley at 1.13 to 1.44 tons per acre.
“Our breeding plots have oats and wheat planted next to the triticale, and you can look at the difference – oats had a lot of freeze damage. The wheat is shorter and produces less forage.”
The forage trial includes two Texas A&M AgriLife varieties, TAMcale 6331 and TAMcale 5019. Baker says any good commercial triticale will produce excellent results for grazing, hay or silage production.
“Many triticale varieties have disease and insect resistance that wheat and oats don’t have, allowing us to plant a little earlier in the year,” he said. “We can get cattle on sooner by taking advantage of late summer rains and get it in the ground and get a good stand.” Baker said triticale offers two to three weeks longer grazing time in the spring.