Forage Field Day Highlights Successes of Growing Winter Annuals in Georgia
SCREVEN, Georgia -- Growing winter cover crops in Georgia may be uncommon, but more producers might look into the practice following the positive results Jonny Harris has had on his Greenview Farms in Screven, GA.
Funded by a Southern SARE Producer Grant, Harris has been studying annual ryegrass varieties, triticale and crimson clover to determine how well the crops perform as winter annual forages and as cover crops. Harris has been rotating his cattle on winter cover crops for decades, but he wanted the data to show other farmers that the production practice is not only profitable, but also good for the soil. Preliminary findings indicate that annual ryegrass and triticale can produce significant tonnage as a winter forage crop and that winter annuals, ryegrass in particular, can provide superior soil physical characteristics, most notably water holding capacity.
Harris collaborated with several University of Georgia Extension agents and research specialists to share the research results with a group of livestock and forage producers at a Forage Field Day on Oct. 9. The program was designed to link crop producers interested in cover crops with livestock producers needing high-quality forage.
Participants were greeted to presentations by Natural Resource Conservation Services specialists Rita Barrow and Paul Harris; and UGA Extension specialists Curt Lacy, Mark Frye, Dennis Hancock and Lawton Stewart; as well as a presentation on Southern SARE grant programs. Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston was also on hand to learn more about the SSARE-funded project.
Sponsors of the program included Southern SARE, Georgia Cattleman's Association, Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission, UGA Cooperative Extension Service, Satilla River Soil & Water Conservation District, USDA NRCS and Farm Service Agency, AgSouth Farm Credit, Crop Production Services, Wayne County Farm Bureau, Pennington Seed, Seven Rivers RC&D, and Georgia Grazing Land Conservation Coalition.
Learn more about the SSARE-funded research project, "Demonstrating the Potential for Triticale and Annual Ryegrass as Both an Alternative Winter Crop and a Soil Organic Matter-Building Practice” (FS11-253).