Farm Progress

Options for forage following wheat

Once wheat is out of the field, how can you optimize production on that field? Forage may be an option with enough moisture and plenty of time left in the growing season.

June 28, 2017

1 Min Read
OPTIONS AFTER WHEAT: If you're planning to produce hay, sorghum-sudan hybrids, teff, or pearl or foxtail millet may be the best option to plant following winter wheat harvest.

By Bruce Anderson

Once your wheat is gone, how do you plan to use that ground after harvest? With good moisture and lots of growing season left this year, there are many forage possibilities.

With good moisture, an early-maturing corn is one possibility for silage if you plant it thick. A better dryland choice might be a high grain-producing forage sorghum if chinch bugs and other insects are not a problem. Sunflowers can be a surprisingly good choice for a short-season silage. They survive light frost and yield well under many conditions.

If hay is preferred, plant sorghum-sudan hybrids, teff, or pearl or foxtail millet when chinch bugs aren't a problem. A hay crop exceeding 2 tons per acre can be grown easily if planted soon after harvest and rain is timely. Another hay or silage alternative is solid-seeded soybeans. A couple tons of good forage can be grown from taller, full-season varieties planted after wheat. Oats planted in early August are another option. Yields over 2 tons are common when moisture is good, fertility is high and your hard freeze comes a little late.

Definitely consider turnips, as well as oats, for fall pasture planted into wheat stubble in late July or early August. With a few timely rains in August and September, both oats and turnips produce much high-quality feed in a short time, and they are relatively inexpensive to plant.

Don't sit idle
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.

Anderson is a Nebraska Extension forage specialist. This report comes from UNL CropWatch.

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