Submitted to: Forage Focus
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/9/2010
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Beef and dairy producers in the U.S. often use fall-seeded small-grain crops as a source of high-quality forage. This practice is common with hard-red winter wheat in the Southern Great Plains. However, producers in other regions of the country could potentially make better use of these cereal-grain forages, especially in the fall. This management approach could be used to extend the grazing season or provide a one-time harvest of emergency silage following summer drought. We conducted a study to assess the fall-growth potential of wheat, triticale, and oat cultivars in Wisconsin, and also the quality (fiber composition and energy density) of these forages. Evaluated at 3-week intervals between 15 September and 1 November, yields of dry matter increased over time for all cultivars, but accumulation rates were faster during late September and early October than during late October. Despite continuing increases of yield over harvest dates, the energy density of the forages remained relatively stable. This study shows farmers that they can time the fall harvest of small grains to maximize yield without sacrificing quality.