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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #359871

Research Project: Improving Nutrient Use Efficiency and Mitigating Nutrient and Pathogen Losses from Dairy Production Systems

Location: Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research

Title: Harvest management for triticale forages

item Coblentz, Wayne
item Akins, Matthew - University Of Wisconsin

Submitted to: Progressive Dairyman
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/2019
Publication Date: 2/7/2019
Citation: Coblentz, W.K., Akins, M.S. 2019. Harvest management for triticale forages. Progressive Dairyman. pp. 74-76.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Triticale has become very popular with dairy producers managing cropping systems throughout much of the United States. In most cropping systems, triticale functions as a winter-annual forage that includes fall establishment after the removal of corn silage or soybeans, followed by a harvest of silage the following spring or early summer. Reasons for this trend are partly environmental in nature, and incorporate specific needs to capture N and other nutrients from land-applied manure, and also to improve land stewardship by providing winter ground cover. Historically, the boot and soft-dough stages of growth are often discussed as targets for the harvest of most cereal-grain forages. The nutritional characteristics of triticale forages are heavily influenced by competing processes of normal plant maturation juxtaposed against grain fill. In-vitro determinations of NDFD are not influenced by grain fill, but DM digestibility and energy density are either stabilized or improved by this process. However, any nutritional benefit derived by delaying harvest to take advantage of grain fill is associated entirely with grain fill, and not with the leaf and stem structures of the plant. As such, DM digestibility and calculated energy densities of triticale forages harvested at boot stage reflect lower concentrations of structural fiber and lignin, and much greater NDFD than delayed harvests at the soft-dough stage of growth. A fairly severe yield reduction (~ 70%) also can be expected with a boot-stage harvest compared to soft-dough. Despite the yield benefits associated with a delayed harvest, harvest-management decisions for lactating cows will likely still favor a boot-stage harvest because of superior nutritional characteristics, a need to promptly plant a double-crop of corn or soybeans, or both.