Jeff Edwards Says Planting Wheat for Maximum Forage in Fall Takes Different MindsetSun, 10 Aug 2014 14:43:05 CDT
On Saturday, Extension Small Grains Extension Specialist Dr. Jeff Edwards faced a different audience than he usually faces in extension meetings that he holds across the state. The meeting was the 24th Annual Southern Plains Beef Symposium in Ardmore and the room was filled with cattle producers from southern Oklahoma and northern Texas. But Dr. Edwards won them over easily as he talked about the value of wheat forage, which many of them already knew- and offered some very practical things that can be done to maximize wheat forage as early as possible for cattle producers who have little interest in harvesting for grain next June.
Dr. Edwards talked with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays about forage producing strategies for those planting wheat in the coming weeks across the region. You can hear their full conversation by tapping on the LISTEN BAR below.
Edwards says that it all starts with the planting rate. One bushel is simply not enough if you are going for early forage production for your cattle. Ninety pounds is better, but Dr. Edwards told producers that he thinks that two bushels per acre is probably the sweet spot in planting wheat.
Edwards also suggests to bring your rows closer together, which allows a canopy to grow over the rows just that much faster, adding that maximizing the amount of leaves that are soaking up the solar radiation will help you increase the growth of forage- both the quantity as well as the speed of having enough forage to allow grazing to begin.
Edwards also talked about fertility, as well as the varieties that will perform best in giving a cattle producer the largest amounts of forage. Two varieties that Edwards mentioned as being solid forage producers were Gallagher and Duster. He says that one of the keys for whatever variety you plant is its ability to handle high soil temperatures and still germinate in a timely manner.
Weeds are not a major issue when it comes to producing wheat for forage, but early season scouting for insects is very important- Dr. Edwards says be especially on the look out for armyworms and grasshoppers as wheat emerges in early September.
Beyond producing wheat forage, Hays and Edwards also talked about lessons learned from 2014 that can be applied to the upcoming wheat planting season. For no tillers, he says it is very important to kill any volunteer grasses in advance of planting- he suggested making sure it is dead and brown for at least two weeks in order to disrupt the life cycle of the wheat curl mite. That can help stop both the High Plains Virus and Wheat Streak Mosaic, which we saw in downstate Oklahoma this past season.
Edwards does expect enough good quality seed will be available this fall, although you may have to shop a little further north than you normally do to find a producer who had a good growing season. That will be case for OGI varieties as well as others- in some cases, wheat seed dealers in Kansas had a better growing season and several of them raised OGI varieties in 2014.
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