With this year’s plentiful moisture conditions, Nebraska farmers who want to plant a forage crop after the wheat harvest have many options, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist.
Any of several crops can be planted for silage following wheat, he says. An early maturing corn is one possibility if you plant it thick, although yield still might not be very high. A better choice might be forage sorghum if chinch bugs and other insects aren’t a problem. Use high-grain-producing hybrids when available.
Oats planted in early August is another option. Yields exceeding 2 tons are possible if moisture is good, fertility high and the first hard freeze comes a little late. The cheapest option might be to drill bin-run corn very thick if you have good germination and a drill that can handle the kernels.
The best choice for short-season silage might be sunflowers, he says. They survive light frost and yield well under many conditions.
If you want hay instead of silage, Anderson suggests planting teff, a sorghum-sudan hybrid or pearl or foxtail millet when chinch bugs aren't a problem. A hay crop exceeding 2 tons per acre still can be grown if planted soon and rain is timely.
Another hay or silage alternative is solid-seeded soybeans. Taller, full-season varieties can yield a couple tons of good forage when planted after wheat.
For fall pasture, definitely consider planting oats or turnips into wheat stubble in late July or early August. With timely rains in August and September, both crops can produce much high-quality feed in a short time, and they’re inexpensive to plant, says Anderson.