Oats as a Forage Option After Irrigated Wheat for the Nebraska Panhandle - UNL CropWatch, July 20

Oats as a Forage Option After Irrigated Wheat for the Nebraska Panhandle - UNL CropWatch, July 20

July 19, 2011


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Wheat harvest is getting underway in the Panhandle and, due to the extreme drought conditions in the southern U.S., it appears demand may be high for hay and forage this fall and winter. This may lead many Nebraska producers to consider what annual forages could be planted into irrigated wheat stubble in early August.

With an average first frost date of Sept. 20, it's probably risky to plan to get much forage production from summer annuals planted after Aug. 1. However, oats is a forage crop that when planted by mid-August can still produce almost two tons of forage by mid-October. This forage that then either be put up as hay or grazed into the fall and winter.

Recommendations for Planting Oats in Mid-August

The following are some tips based on research done in Nebraska and other states for planting oats into wheat stubble.

  • Oats can be planted no-till into wheat stubble using seeding rates of 80-100 lb per acre.
  • An application of glyphosate prior to planting is usually needed for weed control in no-till situations.
  • Depending upon soil fertility, applying approximately 40 lb of nitrogen per acre is usually adequate to meet nutrient requirements of the oats.
  • Oats planted in early August will typically reach optimum quality/tonnage in 60-75 days.
  • Because oats are somewhat cold tolerant, they can withstand temperatures in the mid-20s before they will winter kill.
  • Oats can be planted with turnips if the crop is to be harvested via grazing. 

If producers are looking for grazing for this fall, winter, and for next spring, planting a combination of oats/turnips and triticale or rye could be a good option as well. The oats and turnips will winter kill while the triticale or rye will over winter and be available as a forage next spring. With the expected high demand for feed this year, planting annual forages into irrigated wheat stubble may be a good option.

Aaron Berger
Extension Educator in Kimball and Banner Counties