Winter triticale tips for success

By Mike Rankin

“With many drought-stressed crops harvested early, this may be an ideal year to plant winter triticale to bolster forage supplies,” says Tom Kilcer, a crop consultant and researcher based in Kinderhook, N.Y.

Kilcer likes the yield potential and forage quality that triticale has to offer; however, he emphasizes that timing and attention to detail are needed to realize the crop’s full benefits. Here’s his recipe for success after years of research and on-farm experience:

1. Plant certified, quality seed that you know will germinate and produce high yields. Stay clear of the unknown seed quality that accompanies bin-run seed. He suggests a planting rate of 100 pounds per acre.

2. Plant early. Kilcer recommends triticale be seeded 10 to 14 days before your local winter wheat planting date. This ensures maximum plant tillering and yield potential. This is especially important in northern regions. In northern New York field trials, triticale yielded 32 percent more when planted September 10 compared to October 5. “Planting late with more seed won’t boost yields,” notes Kilcer in his recent newsletter, Advanced Ag Systems’ Crop Soil News.

The crop consultant has also seen further benefits from early planting. The larger seedlings will take up more applied or residual nitrogen. This helps to boost the number of fall tillers and has the potential to reduce the amount of spring-applied nitrogen. Kilcer has found that early plantings are more resistant to snow mold as standing water covers less of the plant. If need be, he recommends shortening your corn relative maturity to accommodate timely winter triticale seeding.

3. Apply nitrogen, preferably incorporating manure before seeding. If this isn’t done, Kilcer recommends that 40 to 60 pounds per acre of commercial nitrogen be applied. Additional nitrogen may be needed for later plantings.

4. Drill seed 1.25 inches deep. A grain drill that commands optimum seed placement returns a much larger likelihood for success than broadcasting and light tillage. Seeded at 1.25 inches deep, plants are less likely to heave out of the ground during spring. Proper seed placement enhances the chances that your highest potential yields will be reached.