Seeding Forages Into Wheat Stubble

Seeding Forages Into Wheat Stubble

June 27, 2008

Wheat stubble can be an excellent seedbed for no-till planting forages such as alfalfa, turnips, or summer annual grasses. Soil moisture is conserved, erosion is reduced, weed seeds remain buried, and tillage expenses are eliminated.

Despite these advantages, many growers still experience spotty stands.To help ensure success when planting into wheat stubble, take a few extra steps. Sometimes heavy residue can be a problem that might limit proper drill operation and seed placement or even partly smother new seedlings. Residue can be especially troublesome right behind the combine even when using a good straw chopper. The best way to minimize this problem is to bale the straw and remove excess residue and use a well-functioning drill.

Weeds are another challenge — either annual weeds that develop after wheat is combined or volunteer wheat that sprouts later in the summer. Control weeds prior to planting with herbicides like glyphosate and be ready with postemergence herbicides like Select or Poast Plus for later emerging weeds or volunteer wheat if permitted for the forage you are planting.

Finally, consider cross- or double-drilling. Plant one-half of the seed while driving one direction, then plant the other half while driving in a different direction. This helps fill in gaps, develops canopy, improves weed control earlier, and may help you plant the right amount of seed if you commonly end up running out or have much seed left over.Wheat stubble makes a good seedbed. Make it even better with a few management adjustments.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist