GALENA, Mo. — Winter annuals such as cereal rye, triticale, barley and wheat can be used to supplement fall and winter grazing and hay supplies according to Tim Schnakenberg, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“Most extension agronomists do not recommend these on good solid stands of fescue believing it’s counter-productive to the fescue potential and less cost-effective,” said Schnakenberg. “If the stand is weak, full of summer grassy weeds and broadleaves, it may be justifiable.”
These annuals are especially beneficial in fields where corn, sudangrass or millet was used the previous summer or in dormant stands of bermudagrass, crabgrass or Caucasian bluestem.
“They are not recommended in native grass stands due to the stress they can put on the grass before or during dormancy or as dormancy breaks in the spring,” said Schnakenberg.
Cereal rye and barley are considered the most productive for fall and early winter grazing, followed by triticale.
According to Schnakenberg, wheat may be less useful for fall grazing, but there will be some limited grazing in the fall or winter.
“It will produce more abundantly in the spring. For that reason, wheat can also be used as early spring hay or baleage crop,” said Schnakenberg.
Rye will mature out early in the spring, and the quality drops rapidly unless stocking density is managed to keep it vegetative longer.
“In good falls when cereal rye or barley is planted early, and we have plenty of moisture, there is sometimes a hay or haylage crop that can be taken, but that will limit the grazing potential of the crop.
“Seed prices are higher this year, so it will be important to develop a sound plan,” said Schnakenberg.
Turnips are a very inexpensive feed source, but it is important to plant them early (late August preferred) where there will be little competition for them.
“Where the cereal grains are typically drilled three-quarters to one inch deep in the soil, they need to be shallowly planted. Often they are broadcasted on top of the ground if competition is removed,” said Schnakenberg.
For more information, contact any of these MU Extension agronomy specialists in southwest Missouri: Tim Schnakenberg in Stone County, (417) 357-6812; Jill Scheidt in Barton County, (417) 682-3579 and Sarah Kenyon in Howell County, (417) 256-2391.
— Tim Schnakenberg, University of Missouri Extension
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