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Forage options with return of rain
Forage Minute

Forage options with return of rain

Winter wheat

The winter wheat in the foreground will provide early grazing next March.

When there is rain, there is opportunity. Although welcome rains have finally reached most of Nebraska, it may have been too late to rescue some severely stressed row crops. Still, these rains have created opportunities for new crop seeding plans to take full advantage of the moisture.

When drought limits row crop yields, many producers seek dual purpose forages which can provide both forage and cash grain income. Wheat is one of those dual purpose crops providing forage grazing as well as a potential early summer cash grain income.

To get full benefits, grazing animals will need to be removed in the spring from the fields prior to the wheat reaching the jointing growth stage.

This fall, the recommended winter wheat seeding dates for grain optimum production vary across Nebraska based on elevation (from Sep. 1 in the extreme northwest to Oct. 1 in the southeastern tip). For central Nebraska, the normal wheat drilling season is Sep. 20 to Sep. 25. This target date might be delayed to the last week of Sep. if producers select wheat varieties susceptible to the Hessian fly insects.

If forage production is the main goal, then earlier fall drilling is highly encouraged. Oats, barley, turnips and radishes especially benefit from early fall planting. Whereas, rye, triticale and wheat can be drilled later into the fall with success. Nebraska Extension research reveals, though, that total forage production doubles for each month earlier in the fall the forage crops can be planted.

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