Turnips planted in late July or early August can provide high-quality grazing in late fall and winter, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage agronomist.
Turnips can provide good grazing beginning in October and often lasting into the new year, says Anderson. Also, turnips are cheap to plant since seed can cost less than $10 per acre. Seedbed preparation and planting can be done several ways. Some turnip growers work soil like a fully prepared alfalfa seedbed. Others heavily disk their ground, but leave it fairly rough before broadcasting seed. And a few growers spray glyphosate or Gramoxone on wheat or oat stubble to kill weeds and then plant no-till.
“Whatever method you choose, good early weed control is essential,” he says. “Turnips do poorly if weeds get ahead of them, but once started, turnips compete very well.”
Since no herbicides are labeled for turnips, weeds must be controlled with tillage or by using contact herbicides like glyphosate or Gramoxone before planting. Then plant quickly to get the turnips off and running. Plant only 2-4 lbs of seed per acre. Turnip seed is very small, so barely cover it. If you drill the seed, just scratch the surface with the openers. Simply broadcasting seed onto tilled soils works well for many growers, especially on rough seedbeds where rainfall or irrigation washes soil onto the seeds for coverage.
“Then wait,” says Anderson. “With a few timely rains, you will have excellent green feed for late October, November and December.”