July 24, 2009
Plant Turnips Now for Extended Winter Grazing
If you’re interested in a high quality pasture for late fall and winter grazing, consider planting turnips in July or August into wheat or oat stubble. They're cheap to plant — seed can cost less than $10 an acre — and provide grazing material from October into the new year.
Some turnip growers work soil like a fully prepared alfalfa seedbed. Others heavily disk their ground, but leave it fairly rough before broadcasting seed. A few growers spray glyphosate or Gramoxone® on wheat or oat stubble to kill weeds and then plant no-till.
Whatever method you choose, good early weed control is essential. Turnips do poorly if weeds get ahead of them, but once started, turnips compete very well. Since no herbicides are labeled for turnips, weeds must be controlled either by tillage or by using contact herbicides like glyphosate or Gramoxone before planting. Then plant quickly to give the turnips a headstart on weeds.
Plant only 2 to 4 pounds of turnip seed per acre. Turnip seed is very small, so barely cover it. If you drill the seed, just scratch the surface with your openers. Simply broadcasting seed onto tilled soils works well for many growers, especially on rough seedbeds where rainfall or irrigation washes soil onto the seeds for soil coverage.
With a few timely rains you will have excellent green feed for late October, November, and December.
Extension Forage Specialist