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Planting Forages after Wheat: Think Outside the Box

June 19, 2013
6 26 12 Texas sunflowers 2
If you can't find seed for traditional forages, short-season sunflowers could be an alternative option.  
 
 

Traditional forage seed supplies may be short this year, so it's a perfect time to try something new.
 

By Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

With wheat harvest quickly approaching, this is a good time to make plans for what you’ll do with those fields post-harvest.

Planting a forage into wheat stubble for hay, silage, or grazing is an especially valuable option this year as growers try to rebuild feed reserves that were exhausted last spring due to drought or slow early season growth.

If you’re considering a forage, be aware that seed supplies for traditional favorites may be short. Cover crops last fall, spring forage plantings, and now prevented planting choices in some states have used most of the forage seed, making this a good year to try something new.

Typically, we might plant an early maturing corn or a forage sorghum to chop for silage. If these seeds aren’t available, maybe a short-season sunflower will work for silage. Sunflower survives light frost and yields well under many conditions.

For double-crop hay, sorghum-sudan hybrids, pearl millet, or foxtail millet tend to be first choices. A good alternative is solid-seeded soybeans. Also consider planting bin-run corn very thick so stems aren’t so heavy and hard to cut and dry. Oats or other spring small grains planted in early August are another option.

Definitely consider turnips and other brassicas, as well as oats, for fall pasture planted into wheat stubble in late July or early August. Often they are less expensive to plant and, with a few timely rains, will produce a good amount of high quality feed in a short time.

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RELATED TOPICS: Wheat, Hay/Forage, Crops, Other Crops

 
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