The Free Cash Crop
Football lights and clouds of red dirt from farms preparing for winter wheat and rye accentuate the rural Oklahoma sunsets. Planting season is upon us.
However, many agriculturalists are overlooking a free cash crop. Many of us see crabgrass as a weed, and if you have a Bermuda lawn you’re exactly right. Crabgrass is a tenacious plant, it seems to spring up everywhere in the summer, especially in wheat and rye fields.
Don’t hook up your disc just yet.
Crabgrass is an excellent source of feed, either for summer grazing or baled and stockpiled for winter feeding. Winter is coming – shout out to my fellow Game of Thrones fans.
Crabgrass can produce anywhere from 4,000-8,000 pounds of useful forage an acre annually. The Natural Resources Conservation Service reports ranges of 0.75-2.25 pounds of average daily growth on stocker cattle grazing on crabgrass pasture. Feeding trials have also been conducted on Bermuda grass versus crabgrass with similar protein contents and showed stockers performed an average of 0.2-0.3 pounds ADG better being fed crabgrass hay.
More pounds, more money at the market.
I can hear you thinking it now, “What if I don’t own cattle?” No cattle, no problem. You’re a mere electric fence away from pasture rental. Or cut it for hay and sell it. Depending on the market and quality, you can sell crabgrass from $25-50 per bale. Who doesn’t a little extra cash?
My first job was on a hay farm in western Oklahoma. I distinctly recall him telling me, "Crabgrass used to be a four-letter word around here. But that was before we figured out how to make money on it." Why not let it make some money for you?