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2005 Annual Report: Forage Wheat or Triticale in a Double Crop System


Wheat is typically thought of as a grain crop in Northwest Missouri, although producers in Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma have relied on it for years as a winter pasture and also as a forage crop. Data published by Kansas State University trials several years ago indicated that wheat can be a high yielding silage and hay crop. It also has the potential to be used in a double crop system.

Triticale is a wheat and rye cross. There is not much of a demand for the grain, but the forage yield tends to be higher than wheat although the quality is usually lower. It may be either hayed or grazed.

Many people are unaware that soybeans were first brought into the United States to be used as a forage crop. In 1924, over 1 million acres of soybeans were grown for hay in the U.S. The use of soybeans for hay continued well into the 20th Century. However, in the latter half of the 20th Century soybeans became popular as an oil seed crop and their use as a forage became a rarity. Selection was based on grain yield and the type of soybeans changed.

Recently, there has been renewed interest in using soybeans for forage. This is mainly due to the work of Tom Devine, USDA, Elwood Hatley, Penn State University, and David Starmer, VA Tech University. They developed and released three new forage type soybean varieties which are as follows:

  • Donegal — Group V recommended for the Northeast
  • Derry — Group VI recommended for the Midwest
  • Tyrone — Group VII recommended for the South

University and on-farm demonstrations have reported dry matter yields as high as six tons per acre with 17 to 22% crude protein levels.

Materials and Methods

Cow Pro Forage Wheat and Triticale were provided by Missouri Southern Seeds. They were planted on October 20th, 2004 at a rate of 80 pounds per acre on eight inch row spacing. Two pts per acre of Touchdown were also applied at planting. Ninety pounds of nitrogen was applied on April 27th, 2005.

After harvesting the forage wheat and triticale plots, the area was divided in half and either Derry Forage Soybeans or NK S35 Roundup Ready Soybeans were planted on June 20th, 2005. Derry soybeans were planted at 2 bushels per acre and 2 handfuls of corn were also included to simulate cleaning out the corn planter. The corn was added simply to increase tonnage and yield. The Roundup Ready soybeans were planted at the rate of 182,700 seeds per acre. Both of the soybean plots were sprayed with Touchdown Total on the 20th.


The plots were harvested on June 6th, 2005. The forage wheat yield was 14,157 pounds per acre wet (70% moisture), or 4.9 tons of dry matter per acre. The triticale yield was 18,208 pounds per acre wet (59% moisture), or 5.2 tons of dry matter per acre. Samples were put up as dry hay. Forage nutrient analyses were conducted on both samples. On a dry matter basis, the crude protein and TDN values were 9.7 and 47 for the triticale and 8.9 and 59 for the Forage Wheat, respectivley. The results are included in Figure 1.

Forage soybean yields were unable to be collected this year due to equipment failure. However, if we look at the published data from other university trials we know that yields of 6 tons of dry matter per acre on forage soybeans are very attainable. This would indicate that it is very possible to obtain 10 tons of dry matter yield per acre of very high quality forage using equipment that most farmers have anyway! It does seem though that the forage soybeans work best when using a bale wrapper of some type.

The part of the study that we are the most excited about is the one with the conventional soybeans. The conventional Roundup Ready soybeans yielded 35 bushels per acre following the forage wheat and triticale. This yield is a little deceptive as these plots had extreme pressure from deer that sought them out as they were planted later than other soybeans at the research station. Even so, we considered this plot a success in that we were able to demonstrate a 5 ton per acre yield of high quality forage followed by a cash crop of around $200.00 per acre taken off of the same piece of land! Think about this…getting the winter feed for your cowherd and a cash crop off the same acreage. We think that this has potential.


Why are we interested in forage wheat and triticale used in a double crop system with either forage soybeans or conventional soybeans at Graves-Chapple?

  • You can take two high quality, high yielding hay crops off the same piece of ground. This could perhaps decrease the amount of grass hay acreage needed. With increasing land and rent prices, it may become more and more important to maximize the use of the land resource you have.
  • It can also work in a double crop situation with conventional soybeans. This allows you to take a hay crop and a cash crop off the same piece of ground. Again, you would be maximizing the use of your land resource.

Figure 1 - Nutrient analyses for tritacale and forage wheat produced at the Graves-Chapple Farm in 2005.