A turnip doesn’t have the same deep-diving root system of its brassica cousin, the radish, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist. But it can help alleviate surface compaction while providing a fast-growing grazing crop.

Turnips have shorter, wider tubers than radishes, so they don’t break up as much soil or leave deep holes when they rot. “Turnips deal with shallow surface compaction,” he adds.

What makes them an attractive option is that they are a good livestock feed, especially well-suited for late fall and early winter grazing. One strength turnips have over most plants is that animals can graze their green foliage on top and the actual turnip bulbs, Anderson points out.

“Grazable yield and carrying capacity can be quite high with forage turnips.”

Planted by early August, with enough moisture, turnips can provide good grazing by October and often last through December. Anderson recommends a 2- to 4-lb/acre seeding rate and shallow planting or broadcasting on prepared seedbeds. If the seed is drilled, just scratch the surface with the openers, he adds.

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