Annual Forages: General overview

Cool Season Winter &; Spring Small Grains

Wheat, triticale, rye, oats, and barley

  • When to plant: winter annuals are likely to be planted in the fall and grow in the cool season.
  • Benefits: Excellent fall and early spring pasture.
  • Grazing: Cereal grains should not be grazed until plants are six to eight inches tall.
  • Spring and winter small grains: used as hay, silage, and green chop. Haying might be difficult due to long drying time required to reduce moisture content. Nutritional value of small grain forage declines rapidly with increasing maturity. Typically, small grain forage harvested in the pre-boot stage has about 20% CP, 40% NDF, 30% ADF, and in vitro digestibility of 80%.

Warm Season Annual Grasses

Foxtail millets, Pearl millet, Sudangrass, Forage sorghums, Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids, Italian Ryegrass

  • When to plant: warm summer months with a soil temperature of 65 to 70 degrees F.
  • Benefits: excellent tonnage and quality. Depends on species selection.

Table 1. Forage Nutritive Value of Annual Forages (values are on percentage of dry weight)

Table 2. Rating of Annual Crops for Best Suitability for Forage (Type Ranking: 1 = best suitability; 4 = poor suitability) in South Dakota

Table 3. Suggested Planting Dates, Seeding Rates, and Harvesting Times for Annual Forages

Table 4. Forage Planting Date, Harvest Date, Estimate Yield, and Quality of Annual Forage Crops


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