Farming Magazine - February, 2009

DEPARTMENTS

Letters

Dear folks,

I just received the January 2009 issue of Farming, and sat down at lunch eager to read about the “New Forage Crops” article.

What a disappointment! You need to tell the author, Mr. Thomas, that “forage crops” consist of grasses, legumes and some cereal crops. Instead, half of the article reviewed corn grain varieties, and the latter half was about the various silo covers and accessories on the market.

Did I miss something? Were there some pages not included in my issue that actually mentioned forages? If not, then I suggest you don’t mislead us with front page publicity for something different than what is printed inside.

Thank you for your time.
David Brown
Deerfoot Farm
Shoemakersville, Pa

Ev Thomas Responds:

“Mr. Brown may be correct that a discussion of silo covers is a bit of a stretch in an article referring to ‘forage crops,’ even though that is indeed what they are covering. However, I don’t agree that forage crops are limited to ‘grasses, legumes and some cereal crops.’ I’ve always considered corn harvested for silage (the predominant way we harvest the crop in the northeastern U.S.) as a forage, but I checked the dictionary for a definition. Sure enough, a forage is ‘a crop eaten by horses or cattle.’ The term ‘forage’ was once limited to pasture plants, but as agriculture modernized and most plants fed to livestock were mechanically harvested, the definition was expanded to include both pastured and mechanically harvested plants. My definition of a forage crop is any whole plant harvested and fed to livestock. Therefore corn or oats harvested for grain are not forage crops, while the same crops harvested as whole plants for silage are forage crops. So, the term ‘forage’ refers to how the crop is used, not the particular species.