For many of us, 2020 has at least one good thing happening for us. I has been the earliest harvesting of corn silage since 2012! This is giving us a big leg up on
getting our winter triticale planted in time to deliver a highly-tillered, and voluminous crop next spring. In our last Foraging Ahead newsletter, we were
talking about putting in a crop of a cocktail mix after the triticale or rye in the late spring. There is another opportunity for those of you who need to make a
perennial seeding of either grass or grass/alfalfa. The idea is to use the small grain seeding to make an almost weed-free perennial seeding. The secret is
harnessing the allelopathy.
What is Allelopathy?
We probably all dealt with allelopathy if we have planted small grains, and then saw the next crop not do so well. Allelopathy is produced by small grains (and actually even some trees!) when they are dying either from a harvest or termination. An exudate is produced in the dying process which inhibits the germination or the growth of a new seeding, and also the weed seeds in the field’s seed bank. The solution of allelopathy is, as the old saying goes, “in the dilution”. Since the allelopathic chemicals are in only the top few inches of soil, allelopathy can be the easily mitigated by light tillage or even a significant application of liquid manure.
Making Allelopathy Your Friend
Allelopathy can be your friend when you use it to prevent weeds growing in your desired next crop. Legumes are not affected by small grain allelopathy, as are
most small seed cultivars. Remembering the allelopathy is produced when the crop is cut or terminated, we simply sow our next crop in the early spring when the cereal rye or triticale is just starting to wake up and you can get on the field without cutting in with the tractor tires. The soil is then so mellow, a conventional drill is generally all you will need to do the job.
When the small grain crop has come off, it will then start doing its job and preventing new weeds from starting in the hay crop. The weeds which would pop up after the cover of the small grains are removed are now prevented from germinating or growing by the allelopathic effect. This does not affect the seedlings already growing. With this approach we have established thousands of acres of perennial seedings. We virtually eliminate seeding-year yield drag and
create weed-free seedings with no herbicide.
Prepare the Field for a Hay Crop
One caveat to remember in the fall, is to have the field prepared like you would for a hay field, This will, of course, not be able to be done in the spring and obviously you won’t want a rough field to make hay.
All of this gives one more reason why planning your cropping rotations ahead of time gives you the best chance for success. Daniel has been helping many dairies to set up cropping plans mostly by Zoom conferences with you as well as the principle parties on your dairy such as partners, agronomists, and nutritionists. You can contact us for this opportunity by either emailing or calling Daniel or myself at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 608-516-0101.
Article by Larry Hawkins, PAS