According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Allamakee County was the largest oat-producing county in Iowa at an estimated 181,000 bushels. This was a slight reduction from last year’s 196,000 bushels. Winneshiek County followed closely with 179,000 bushels which was down from last year’s 243,000 bushels. Favorable conditions throughout the growing season resulted in generally higher yields. The average number of bushels per acre in Allamakee County was estimated at 88.3 with a statewide average of 76.0 bushels per acre.
The Allamakee County SWCD is encouraging producers to consider planting more acres in small grains as they look to the 2017 crop year. There are many benefits to growing small grains. With the current corn and soybean prices and steady input costs, one of the biggest benefits to growing small grains is the lower input costs. They also help to break up pest and weed cycles, have reduced nutrient and herbicide/pesticide requirements, and help to diversity soil biology to increase soil health. Because small grains are harvested in late July or early August, producers can then plant a diverse cover crop that can achieve significant growth before fall, helping to improve soil health and opening up an opportunity to fall graze the cover crop. Alternatively, red clover can be seeded with a spring-seeded small grain or frost-seeded into a fall-seeded small grain to serve as a cover crop after the small grain harvest. In addition to harvesting small grains for food or feed, they can also be harvested for cover crop seed.