Safflower Update

I attended the MSU Crop School a few weeks ago.  One of the talks was on Safflower and it’s forage potential in the Intermountain West.  Dave Wichman presented this information there.  Turns out this is a very palatable feed option for cattle that will also tolerate our cool March temperatures down to 15*-20*F.  That was surprising to me but necessary given the long growing season of safflower which is 110-150 days.  You would plant this seed ideally at a soil temp of 50*F but you can plant at 40*F.  Safflower will require 1700 corn growing degree days.  When planting safflowers use a seeding rate of 60 psf and a barley fertilizer protocol.

This is a good rotational option in your cropping system to claim nutrients that might have moved further down in the soil profile.  This plant has a deep tap root of 8-10 ft and is a high water user.  It is good for saline seep areas, not only for the ability to use water but also to improve drainage as the roots move through the profile and decompose.

As a forage crop you can expect 3-5 tons per acre yields with Relative Feed Values (RFV) of 130 RFV in the bud stage, 140 RFV in bloom stage and 110-120 RFV in mature seed stage.  This would be a good option for fall calving operations which you would feed prior to calving.

I am including a few other links about Safflower below

Safflower- Purdue University

Safflower Production- NDSU

Safflower Production on the Canadian Prairies