Beardless winter wheat: a spring forage option for South Dakota, Montana cattle producers
BROOKINGS, SD – When it comes to fall-seeded forages, South Dakota cattle producers haven’t had an option that excels both in winter hardiness and provides their livestock with quality forage – until now says Justin Fruechte, forage and cover crop specialist for Millborn Seeds.
“Beardless winter wheat is a new forage option, tested by Montana ranchers, and found to overwinter well and produce quality spring forage,” Fruechte said. “Like its name suggests, beardless winter wheat doesn’t produce an awn, making it a palatable forage which does not cause irritation to the cow’s eyes or mouth.”
Suggested planting dates for beardless winter wheat are Sept. 15 to Oct. 10. As a fall-seeded forage, beardless winter wheat can be drilled into soybean stubble or unproductive alfalfa ground. The stubble helps retain snow for winter moisture and insulation, and the wheat can utilize the nutrients left behind by the legumes. If a producer wants to add more protein to the roughage, Fruechte suggests inter-seeding beardless winter wheat with Austrian winter peas.
As a fall-seeded forage, beardless winter wheat provides another huge benefit to cattle producers – they don’t have to worry about working around excess spring moisture or calving when planting.
The forage can be grazed, chopped for silage or hayed in mid-June, an ideal perfect time to plant back to a warm season annual forage.
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