With an early wheat harvest more than likely, there should be plenty of extra growing season for producing more forage, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist.
One such silage possibility, with good moisture, is an early maturing corn if planted thickly. A dryland choice might be forage sorghum – if chinch bugs and other insects don’t cause problems. Use high grain-producing hybrids when available.
“The best choice of all for short-season silage might be sunflowers. They survive light frost and yield well under many conditions,” Anderson says.
Growers who want more hay should consider planting teff, sorghum-sudan hybrids, or pearl or foxtail millet when chinch bugs aren't a problem. A hay crop that can produce more than 2 tons/acre can still be grown if planted soon after wheat harvest – and rain is timely.
Solid-seeded soybeans are another hay or silage alternative after wheat and can yield a couple tons of good forage. Turnips or oats can be planted in late July or early August, he says.
“Oat yields over two tons are possible if moisture is good, fertility high, and your hard freeze comes a little late.” With a few timely rains in August and September, both crops not only produce a good amount of high-quality feed in a short time, they’re also inexpensive to plant.
The least expensive option might be to thickly plant bin-run corn with a drill that can handle the kernels, he adds.
“Don't automatically let your wheat ground sit idle the rest of the year, especially if you could use more forage. When moisture is available, there are many forage options. One might be right for you,” Anderson says.