Submitted to: Electronic Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: November 6, 2008
Publication Date: December 1, 2008
Citation: Coblentz, W.K., Walgenbach, R.P. 2008. Fall-growth potential of cereal-grain forages in central Wisconsin. Midwest Forage Association, Forage Focus. December 2008. p. 20-21. Technical Abstract: Although cereal grains are used commonly for fall, winter, and spring grazing throughout the Southern Great Plains, these forages have not been evaluated extensively as fall forage options for dairy and beef producers in the north-central U.S. Specifically, beef and dairy producers could consider using cereal-grain forages to extend the fall grazing season, minimize supplemental hay or silage feeding, or to provide an additional forage option for silage either routinely, or specifically following summer drought. Four varieties of spring oat (Ogle, Drumlin, Vista, and Forage Plus), two varieties of winter wheat (Hopewell and Kaskaskia), and one variety of triticale (Trical 2700) were established in replicated plots on 11 August 2006 and 13 August 2007 at Prairie du Sac, WI. Forages were no-till seeded into residual cereal-grain stubble and fertilized at planting with a single application of ammonium nitrate at a rate of 50 lbs N/acre. Yields of DM on three harvest dates (15 September, 7 October, and 1 November) are summarized in Figure 1. On all harvest dates, oat varieties maintained an approximate 2 to 1 advantage in yield over wheat with triticale being intermediate. These differences are largely related to growth habit; oat and triticale varieties exhibited stem elongation with an early-August planting date, while wheat varieties remained completely vegetative. Across the four oat varieties (Figure 2), yields were greatest for the earliest maturing variety (Ogle; 4730 lbs/acre), and least for the latest maturing variety (Forage Plus; 3741 lbs/acre). Other oat varieties produced intermediate yields. In central Wisconsin, coupling an early-August planting date with selection of cultivars that exhibit stem elongation during the fall will maximize yields of DM before winter. Unfortunately, this production advantage is coupled with increased sensitivity to freeze damage or winterkill. Therefore, selection of these cultivars should be in response to very specific producer objectives, such as maximizing weight gains of a specific group or class of animals during the fall and early winter, extending the fall grazing season for lactating cows, or providing emergency forage following summer drought.