by: Dr. Mark Sulc, Dr. Bill Weiss, OSU Extension
Some producers may be considering planting a supplemental forage crop after winter wheat grain harvest for various reasons. Some areas of the state are becoming very dry. In many areas, the wet weather this spring resulted in ample forage supply, but good to high-quality forage is in short supply because of the wet weather that delayed harvesting until the crop was mature, or it resulted in rained-on hay that lowered quality.
The table below summarizes options for planting annual forages after wheat harvest.
The forage grass options all require adequate nitrogen to maximize yield potential, either as fertilizer or manure (about 60 lbs of actual available nitrogen per acre). Check any potential herbicide restrictions from the previously planted crop and consider herbicides used after wheat and before planting these annual forages.
Chopping and ensiling or wet wrapping are the best mechanical harvest alternatives for most of the options listed. Wilting is usually necessary. Storage and harvest costs are greater, and fermentation quality can be poor with crops less than about 30% DM (greater than 70% moisture). Ideally, silage should be left undisturbed for at least two weeks to allow the forage to reach stable fermentation. If forage is needed sooner, consider daily green chopping of forage or wet wrapping individual bales for feeding until the silage is ready. Except for Teff, dry baling any of the listed forages is a challenge. Work with your nutritionist to incorporate these alternative forages into properly balanced rations.
In addition to these options, Italian ryegrass or oats can be planted in early August, if soil moisture is adequate. They will produce forage into the autumn months, and Italian ryegrass will likely survive the winter and produce forage next spring and early summer depending on the variety planted. They are suitable for ensiling or wet wrapping or grazing in the autumn. Brassicas can be planted in early August as well, but they are only suitable for grazing in the autumn, not for mechanical harvesting.
For more information see the following:
Consult the Ohio Agronomy Guide for management details, available at https://extensionpubs.osu.edu/ohio-agronomy-guide-pdf/