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Double Crop Issues After Winter Wheat

The Question

I harvest winter wheat for grain and have seeded pearl millet or a pearl millet-black hay soybean combination as a double crop for use as a hay in my finishing ration for beef cattle.  Are there other options  that I should be considering?  At the Farm Progress Show I picked up some literature on a forage combination called "Proton".  What can you tell me about this mixture?

My Response

I like the pearl millet option especially when the crop is to be grazed.  There is no prussic acid issue at frost time with millet as there is with members of the sorghum family.  I am not  convinced that the black hay bean should be your soybean variety option.  Use of an improved late maturing soybean might  fit the need and provide better disease resistance as compared to the black hay bean.  Have you had soybean variety experiences when used for forage? I am very pleased that there is a new sorghum-sudangrass hybrid available called NutriPlus BMR.  This is a brown midrib sorghum that is lower in lignin.  Animals find it more palatable and have better performance with its use as compared to previous hybrids available.  If interested in trying it, contact CISCO (phone 317-788-7013);  ask for Dave Pearl.

I get the impression that you are haying the crop.  As you know, use of pearl millet, sudangrass, and sorghum-sudangrass have high risk of getting wet when laid in a swath because the crop is high moisture, has high yield potential, day length is shortened, and temperature is lower.  If moldy or rain-damaged hay has been an issue too often, you may want to consider harvesting the crop has conventional silage or round bale silage (balage).

In regards to the specific question about "Proton", I believe it is a mixture of forage sorghum, field peas and soybeans.  Inclusion of the field peas has not made sense to me as it is a cool-season crop and the sorghum and soybeans are warm-season crops.  I also think one has to carefully examine the seed cost issue, too.  The contribution of the field peas to forage quality could be more cost effectively supplemented with soybean meal in most years.  In other words, the cost of the field pea seed is high in respect to the quality enhancement and yield that they give to the mixture.

Use of forage turnips following winter wheat grain harvest and used as pasture in the fall is another underutilized resource.  The turnips are super high energy.  It has been suggested that one might want to include spring oats in the seeding to increase fiber level.

Back to Forage Issues

Keith Johnson
Professor of Agronomy and Forage Crops Specialist
1150 Lilly Hall of Life Sciences
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1150
phone: 765-494-4800
fax: 765-496-2926



For more forage information contact Dr. Keith Johnson: johnsonk@purdue.edu

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