Seeding Forages into Wheat Stubble

Seeding Forages into Wheat Stubble

July 10, 2009

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.
  • Tillage expenses are eliminated.

Despite these advantages, many growers still experience spotty stands they could avoid by taking a few extra steps.

Tips for Success

  1. Heavy residue may limit proper drill operation and seed placement or even partly smother new seedlings. First, be sure you have a well-functioning drill. Second, even with a good straw chopper, residue can be especially troublesome right behind the combine if it's too heavy or not evenly distributed. To minimize this you may want to bale the straw and remove excess residue.

     

  2. Annual weeds that develop after wheat or volunteer wheat that sprouts later in the summer also can be a challenge. Control weeds prior to planting with herbicides like glyphosate. And be ready with postemergence herbicides like Select or Poast Plus for later weeds or volunteer wheat.

     

  3. Finally, consider cross- or double-drilling. Plant one-half of the seed while driving one direction, then plant the other half driving in a different direction. This helps fill in gaps, develops canopy and improves weed control earlier. It also 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. You can make it even better by making a few management adjustments.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist