Wheat stubble can be an excellent seedbed for no-till forages, and a few management adjustments can ensure success, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist.
“No-till planting of alfalfa, turnips, summer-annual grasses or other cover crops into wheat stubble has many advantages,” says Anderson. “Soil moisture is conserved, erosion is reduced, weed seeds remain buried and tillage expenses are eliminated."
One of the biggest challenges is heavy residue that might limit proper drill operation and seed placement or even partly smother new seedlings, he says. Residue can be especially troublesome right behind the combine, even when using a good straw chopper. The best way to minimize that problem is to bale the straw and remove excess residue, and be sure to have a well-functioning drill.
“Another challenge is weeds, either annual weeds that develop after wheat is combined or volunteer wheat that sprouts later in the summer. Control weeds prior to planting with herbicides like glyphosate. And be ready with post-emerge herbicides like Select or Poast Plus for later-emerging weeds or volunteer wheat.”
Finally, consider cross or double drilling. Plant half of the seed while driving one direction, then the other half driving in a different direction, Anderson advises. “That helps fill in gaps, develops canopy and improves weed control earlier, and may help you plant the right amount of seed if you commonly end up running out or have much seed left over.”