Triple play

Bob Speck, St. Lawrence, S.D., might make more money per acre with switchgrass than corn this year.

Triple play

Bob Speck, St. Lawrence, S.D., might make more money per acre with switchgrass than corn this year.

He planted 40 acres to switchgrass in 2009, and now harvests seed and hay. He expects the net return over the 10- to 15-year life of the stand to be greater than the net return from corn, soybeans and wheat over the same period.

The profit depends, of course, on the prices and yields of the grain, hay and grass seed. “But I expect switchgrass will at least be as competitive,” Speck says. “My expenses this year will only be harvesting and taxes.”

Speck, his family and friends harvest a third crop from the switchgrass, too: wildlife. The habitat attracts so many pheasants and deer that one person once joked there are no animals on other farms in his area because they are all over in Speck’s switchgrass. “It’s triple cropping: seed, hay and wildlife,” Speck says.

Key Points

South Dakota farmer finds switchgrass to be a good cash crop.

Bob Speck harvests seed, hay and wildlife from switchgrass.

His only costs this year will be taxes and harvesting.

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