Turnips 2 7-24-09

Turnips 2 7-24-09

July 24, 2009

Flying Turnips Or Rye Into Corn

Cornstalks are one of the better and least expensive winter feeds we have, but once cattle finish eating the grain and husks, what remains isn’t all that good.

Some growers have improved both the amount and quality of cornstalk grazing by flying turnip or rye seed onto standing corn in early August. It's not easy, but when successful, turnip or rye plants provide more grazing days and extra protein when cornstalks become poor quality.

Factors Affecting Seeding Success

  • Moisture can be limiting in dryland corn or difficult to manage in surface irrigated fields. Even under pivots, providing water for rye or turnips without slowing corn harvest takes planning.
  • Density of the corn canopy can be another problem. Irrigated fields can be especially thick, acting like weeds to prevent adequate light from reaching new seedlings. Chopping corn for silage or combining high moisture grain early helps.
  • Herbicide carryover also causes problems. Turnips are very sensitive, and rye can also be affected.
  • Wheel traffic at harvest can also be a problem. Turnips are damaged more than rye, but both lose stand if fields get muddy.

Improving cornstalks with rye or turnips can work well, but be aware there are challenges you'll need to consider.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist