Wheat farmers who plant dual purpose wheat should follow a few basic practices to get the most production possible out of forage and grain.
Putting livestock on too early may limit forage production, said David Drake, Texas AgriLife Extension Agronomist, during the recent Big Country Wheat Conference in Abilene.
And grazing too long, he said, reduces grain yield potential.
He said wheat farmers should wait until Feekes 4.0 to begin grazing in the fall. “At that stage, wheat is fully tillered, the leaf sheath is thickened and it begins to grow erect. Grazing too early damages the plants.”
He recommends taking livestock off at Feekes 6.0. “If you push beyond that stage, you hurt grain yield potential,” he said. By Feekes 6.0, the first node forms and the growing point is pushing out of the ground.
Fertility is important for dual purpose wheat. Drake “highly recommends a soil test.” He recommends 50 pounds of nitrogen, 25 pounds of phosphorus and 15 pounds of potassium for a 40-bushel per acre target grain yield.
“Think about the specific object of the operation when deciding on fertility level,” he said.
He also discussed alternative forages and said some producers may consider rye for spring grazing. He’s skeptical. “Rye is cold tolerant but it did not grow well in trials. I prefer triticale or wheat.”