It’s that time of year once again. Wheat harvest has started to make its way across much of the United States. But once that wheat is harvested, how does the land get utilized?
With plenty of growing season still to come and adequate moisture, Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln forage extension specialist, writes in a recent Cropwatch article that there are many forage possibilities.
“An early maturing corn planted thick is one possibility if moisture is available,” says Anderson. If moisture is low, Anderson suggests using a high grain-producing sorghum as long as chinch bugs and other insects are not a problem.
Sunflowers are also an excellent choice for a short-season silage. Sunflowers are able to survive light frost and can withstand many conditions.
When hay is preferred, planting sorghum-sudangrass, teff, pearl millet, or foxtail millet are options as long as chinch bugs aren’t a problem. If planted promptly after harvest and rain is timely, a hay crop of over two tons per acre can be achieved.
Another possible option is solid-seeded soybeans. “A couple tons of good forage can be grown from taller, full-season varieties planted after wheat,” Anderson explains.
Planting oats in early August is yet another option. With a combination of good moisture and fertility as well as a late first hard freeze, yields over two tons are achievable.
When planting in late July or early August, consider planting turnips as well as oats. “With a few timely rains in August and September, both oats and turnips will produce high-quality feed in a short time,” Anderson explains. “And, they are relatively inexpensive to plant,” he adds.
Kassidy Buse is serving as the 2018 Hay & Forage Grower summer editorial intern. She is from Bridgewater, S.D., and recently graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in animal science. Buse will be attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to pursue a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition this fall.