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Rotationally Raised: What to Plant, Where and Why

Careful management and proper choice of variety can make small grains a profitable crop. Episode 3.

Once you decide to grow small grains on your farm, you have a few decisions to make: what species will I grow? Oats, wheat, barley, rye, triticale? And how should they fit into your rotation? Should they follow corn or soybeans? And once I choose a small grain, what variety should I grow? In this week’s episode of Rotationally Raised, “What to Plant: Where and Why” we hear from Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) members around the state on how small grains fit into their crop rotation and how to choose a variety that works for your farm.

Variety selection resources
When it comes to choosing an oat variety, Practical Farmers has been working with Iowa State University for the last couple years to test oat varieties in northern Iowa. You can see those results in this PFI research report and also, check out a blog from Midwest Cover Crops Director Sarah Carlson discussing those results. When it comes to other small grains, you’ll need to go out of the state to find variety trials, and those results have been compiled from nearby states on the PFI websites as well.

Practical Farmers has been working with a group of farmers and small grains buyers throughout Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to improve the logistics of small grains production and marketing in the Midwest. As part of that, the growers who are participating in the project take part in a monthly phone call. This month, Mac Ehrhardt of Albert Lea Seeds in Minnesota, answered farmers’ questions about selecting a small grain variety. You can check out a blog about this call from the new Midwest Cover Crop Associate for PFI, Alisha Bower, who is working on this project with Sarah Carlson.

For more information on this pilot project, contact Alisha or Sarah at or

Editor’s Note: Ohde is the research and media coordinator for Practical Farmers of Iowa in Ames.

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