Small grain maturity could be advanced in 2017.
We are getting lots of reports of our small grain crops maturing earlier than normal. Bill Boone, our forage evaluation manager, reports that he harvested his Aroostook rye for silage at Rock Springs on April 20 this year in the early boot stage compared to April 29 during each of the past two years. This puts the harvest about 9 days ahead of normal. My colleagues at Virginia Tech indicated barley is about 9 days advanced there as well. Jeff Graybill reports that ryelage harvest is nearly complete in Lancaster County, well ahead of normal.
This advanced development is due to warm temperatures over the winter and a much higher growing degree day accumulation than normal. Bill Boone reports that yields seemed to be heavy this year, despite the early harvest. The early development and harvest will also likely impact triticale, wheat and direct cut barley harvest for silage.
The early development can have both positive and negative effects. On the positive side, the potential from yield loss due to planting date delays should be greatly reduced this year. On the negative side, there is potential for the crops to be ready before we are. Now is the time to check small grain maturity for silage harvest and make plans accordingly. Compare to your previous year calendar dates to adjust your plans for this year.
Some critical stages to be looking for would be full flag leaf emergence optimum quality (Feekes 9.0) in small grain silages in central and northern PA and full head emergence for Fusarium Head Blight fungicide applications in winter barley in Southern PA. For those planting green in tall rye, flowering is a common target growth stage. Also, now is the time to anticipate an earlier direct cut barley silage harvest next month.