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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 #372485

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

Location: Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research

Title: Dry matter yield and nutritive value of early- or late-maturing spring wheat, spring barley, and oat cultivars planted in late summer

item Coblentz, Wayne
item AKINS, MATTHEW - University Of Wisconsin
item CAVADINI, JASON - University Of Wisconsin

Submitted to: Crop, Forage & Turfgrass Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/28/2020
Publication Date: 7/16/2020
Publication URL:
Citation: Coblentz, W.K., Akins, M.S., Cavadini, J.S. 2020. Dry matter yield and nutritive value of early- or late-maturing spring wheat, spring barley, and oat cultivars planted in late summer. Crop, Forage & Turfgrass Management. 2020;6;e20034.

Interpretive Summary: Recent emphasis on use of cover crops to improve soil health, alleviate nutrient runoff, and limit soil erosion has increased interest in using cereal-grains as forages throughout the north-central USA. Our objectives were to evaluate early- and late-maturing cultivars of oat, spring wheat, and spring barley in central Wisconsin for fall-forage production and nutritive value when forages were established in August and harvested in early November. The results of this study establish that spring cultivars of wheat or barley that do not have an obligatory requirement for vernalization can be used for fall production of forage, and will perform similarly to oat in this respect. The barley cultivars evaluated in this trial generally exhibited superior nutritive value compared to wheat cultivars. Further work is needed to develop management strategies, such as establishment and harvest timing, that will provide the best trade-offs between DM yield and nutritive value for spring barley or wheat. However, best management practices will be dependent on cultivar, maturity designation, and the nutrient requirements of the livestock class supported.

Technical Abstract: Objectives of this experiment were to evaluate early- and late-maturing cultivars of oat (Avena sativa L.), spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) for fall-forage production and nutritive value. Respective early- and late-maturing cultivars evaluated were Newport and Hays barley, Select and Iguacu wheat, and Ogle and ForagePlus oat. Field plots were arranged in a randomized complete block design with six replications (blocks) each year; therefore, a total of 72 plots were evaluated across the 2-year trial. For 2016, yields of dry matter (DM) were greatest for the two barley cultivars (mean = 6828 lbs DM/acre), while all other cultivars exhibited similar yields (P > 0.05; mean = 5597 lbs DM/acre). For 2017, yield responses for Newport barley (4422 lbs DM/acre) were greater than all other cultivars, which did not differ (P > 0.05; mean = 2712 lbs DM/acre). Generally, wheat and oat cultivars differed on the basis of early- or late-maturing designations for most measures of nutritive value; however, barley cultivars differed only for whole-plant ash. Total digestible nutrients (TDN) were similar (P > 0.05) for early-maturing Newport barley and all late-maturing cultivars (mean = 66.0%); collectively, these energy densities were greater than observed for early-maturing Select wheat (62.8%) or Ogle oat (61.3%). Within species, in-vitro disappearances of DM and fiber were greatest for the late-maturing cultivars, with ForagePlus exhibiting greater disappearance than all other cultivars in these respects. Spring wheat or barley are viable choices for emergency fall forage in the north-central USA.