Forage Options Following Wheat

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With winterkill, winter injury and low first-cut yields in many parts of Ontario as well as higher land costs, there is interest in following winter wheat and other cereals with a forage crop to help supplement inventories. Not only can this approach produce some extra feed, it also provides cover crop benefits. There are a few double-crop forage options that can provide some cheaper, good quality forage. Summer seeding alfalfa rather than waiting until next spring can provide the benefit of a full yield next year without the usual establishment year yield loss. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, and every situation is different.

The challenge is getting the wheat harvested, the volunteer wheat controlled, and the next crop seeded in a timely manner. Competition from volunteer wheat can be a significant problem.  Without vernalization winter wheat will not form a stem in the fall to provide significant growth and yields are very limited. A lot of volunteer wheat can result when light grain goes through the combine, such as fusarium infection situations. One approach to reduce the problem is to do some light tillage (at least behind the combine swath) to encourage the grain to germinate. A burndown with glyphosate 7 – 10 days later will remove much of the volunteer grain. Of course this takes time, and as the calandar gets later some options are lost.

Summer Seeding Oats For Forage

http://fieldcropnews.com/2013/07/summer-seeding-oats-for-forage/

  • moderate to high forage quality depending on the stage at cutting
  • adding peas an option
  • fall cut
  • follow with another crop any time next spring

Italian Ryegrass

http://fieldcropnews.com/2014/06/italian-ryegrass/

  • high to very high forage quality
  • fall cut & a cut next May can be followed by corn silage, soybeans, sorghums, etc
  • some risk of winterkill

Double Cropping Fall Rye For Extra Forage

http://fieldcropnews.com/2013/08/double-cropping-fall-rye-for-extra-forage/

  • moderate to high forage quality depending on the stage at cutting next May
  • high yield potential
  • can follow with corn silage, soybeans, sorghums

Summer Seeding Alfalfa

http://fieldcropnews.com/2012/05/summer-seeding-forages/

  •  full yield potential next year without the usual spring seeding establishment yield loss

This article was originally published to Field Crop News in July 2014.