Fall-planted small grains are a huge opportunity, especially for the Upper Midwest, Northeast and High Plains. Many questions have come in these last few weeks, so we are putting together this guide to answer many of these small grain questions. We will be only discussing opportunities for forages and not grains. This article will deal with these opportunities, and also with the options for the other areas of the US.
One good thing about 2020 is for most of us, there is much corn silage coming off in the next several weeks. This gives ample chance to get fall triticale planted in time for the triticale to tiller and produce a much bigger crop in the late spring. In many years, corn silage comes off so late that our only option is cereal rye. In 2019, many did not even get rye planted due to the rainy fall. In some places this year, we may be able to plant winter-hardy annual rye grass and clovers with the triticale. This will add protein, increase fiber digestibility, and widen our harvest window. See Tables 1 and 2 for more details.
Reasons to choose between Cereal Rye & Fall Triticale
|Best opportunity to get dairy quality|
|Can be planted much later than|
|Best opportunity for large yield due to|
tillering if planted on time
|Rye has an extremely short harvest|
|Triticale has a longer harvest window||Typically, is more thought of as heifer|
or dry cow forage because of the
narrow harvest window.
|If the main concern is an early harvest|
to start the next crop use cereal rye
Both crops need a lesser amount of N (30 units) in the fall (manure?), and about 100 units in the early spring. The spring option should include Sulfur at a ratio of 1 part S to 10 parts N.
To harvest any small grain for dairy-quality forage, cut at the flag leaf stage. The flag leaf is the last leaf to emerge on any small grain. This occurs just before the boot starts emerging in the stem. In California, much of the triticale is taken at soft dough, recognizing that the starch will be replacing the NDFD from the leaves. This works as a good fiber source in low forage diets.
One important thing to note is you need to go all the way to soft dough and not harvest in the milk stage. Milk-stage, small grain forage will be bitter and not as palatable as soft dough.
Winter barley, winter wheat and spelt are other small grain options, and each of these need to be planted at the same time as triticale. We like triticale the best for its upside in quality and yield for the Upper Midwest. If you are using any of these options with great results in your area, there is no need to change
For those that need another cutting of high-quality forage this Fall, oats or spring triticale can be sown together with the fall triticale (80#s of triticale & 65#s of oats). Oats are an amazing crop when planted in the fall as the crop thinks it needs to survive the winter and store an abundance of sugar instead of producing so much NDF as it would do when planted in the spring.
The crop of oats with a small amount of fall triticale will be harvested in about 50 days. It is important to harvest the crop with at least 4 inches residue to ensure a good start for the triticale in the spring. For the upper Midwest and Northeast, we have probably passed the optimal time for planting this mix, but it is still a great option in the southern Midwest and high plains.
For the Mid-South (central Indiana and down to Tennessee and across) the YieldMax Cocktail Mix can be planted after corn silage. A crop of mostly Sorghum Sudan will be taken in 45 days and depending on far South, another cutting of mostly Italian Ryegrass (IRG) and clover/vetch could be taken in 30 more days. In the spring, a cutting of IRG and clover can be taken before moving to the next crop.
In the deep South, Annual or Italian rye grass make amazing forage and can be harvested multiple times. Our favorite annual ryegrass, KOGA is brand new in the US. It is the latest maturing, leafiest annual rye grass we have ever seen. The eastern European climate where it originates translates well to the US. We generally like to plant red and berseem clover with the rye grass for some diversity.
|When to plant winter small grains and|
|Latest planting date|
|Triticale||2 weeks before 1st killing frost date|
|Cereal Rye||2 weeks before freeze up|
|Annual Rye Grass and clovers||4 weeks before 1st killing frost|
If you would like to visit more about forage options reach out to schedule a virtual meeting! We would be glad to help start the planning process for 2021. This early fall provides some great opportunities for a successful 2021. Our seed company partners have some great pricing and quality varieties still available for this fall.