Forage pasture production, risk analysis, and the buffering capacity of triticale
Many livestock producers minimize input costs by relying solely on naturalized, mixed-species pasture, but expose themselves to risks associated with forage yields that fluctuate in response to variable environmental conditions. This study was undertaken to assess winter triticale (xTriticosecale spp.) as a potential component of forage systems from the perspective of reducing forage yield risk. Triticale was sown each month from May until October in replicated plots for five consecutive years. Monthly harvests of triticale and mixed-pasture plots were made through October during the year of establishment and in April and May the following spring. Monte Carlo simulation modeled differences between triticale and mixed pasture yields for each planting month and harvest month combination. The models predicted that triticale yields in August (June planted) and October (August planted) should exceed mixed pasture yields by averages of 0.62 ± 0.32 (mean ± standard deviation) and 0.77 ± 0.52 Mg ha–1, respectively. Yields of triticale planted in July or later and harvested in the following spring were also predicted to exceed mixed pasture by 0.50 ± 0.21 Mg ha–1 for July planted/April harvest to 1.33 ± 0.32 Mg ha–1 for September planted/April harvest. Risk analysis produced probabilities of benefit from incorporating triticale into forage systems, thus generating more meaningful results than conventional ANOVA.