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Crop Report - February, 2016
The unusually dry weather that Oregon has experienced since summer has definitely affected the production outlook. A few comments by species:
Annual ryegrass and forage ryegrasses: This was a difficult planting season for south valley fields. We depend on fall rains prior to planting to germinate most of the seeds that could be a problem in the seed crop. Rains cause the fields to green up, allowing growers to spray out most of the volunteer and many of the weeds that would be a problem later. We did not have that kind of a fall. Many growers had to plant into dry seed beds so many of the fields now have excessive volunteers. The proprietary fields that did get planted are somewhat better as they tend to be on better ground. This was also the rare year that rains came late and did not stop. This meant that in several cases growers who intended to plant fields have not been able to because the soil has stayed too wet.
Perennial ryegrass: Most new and second year plantings look fairly normal. However nearly a third of the valley acres are third year and most of these fields are in some state of weakness. Between low yields and fields that will be taken out in favor of a spring crop, the perennial ryegrass crop could be 10-15% lower than what we had planned for last fall.
Tall fescue: Most first year fields and fields that were fall irrigated look fine. Others look weak—especially fields four years old and older. Summer and harvest stress were significant and fields went into winter with poor tillering and weak. Most growers expect another below average year and there is concern that it could be as bad as 2015.
Fine fescue: Most fields appear to have normal regrowth. This is another crop that requires an extended cold period in winter, so fertile tillers could be lacking once they start to produce seed heads. Yields are expected to be average at best.
Orchardgrass: Many fields look average for this time of year. However, there was significant stand loss in some fields due to bill bug damage. Many of these fields will be removed this spring. Acres of this crop continue to decrease.
Creeping bentgrass: Established fields have normal growth. New fields are mixed but that is not unusual. Almost the entire crop is heavily irrigated so it survived the difficult weather in much better fashion.
Clovers: Clover is wet and not happy. Crimson acres are down thanks to a low price. Red and white acres are thought to be up somewhat. It will be a few more weeks before we can evaluate the condition of these fields.
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