Planting for Quick Feed Options

30th Mar 2019
Daniel White, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services Trainee Agronomist, Glen Innes
The question many producers are asking, naturally with rain forecast, is what crop will give the quickest grazing if planted in the next month?
Triticale is the quickest to first grazing (roughly six weeks) and provides the biggest bulk of feed. Barley will come in about two weeks later and the short season/quick maturing oat varieties about another ten days later.
These species/varieties will provide quicker feed than the traditional late maturing oat varieties we use, with the onset of cooler conditions.
Forage barley varieties such as Dictator and Moby are in very short supply, however stocks of dual purpose (grazing and grain) varieties such as Urambie and Shepherd are available. The availability of triticale varieties such as Crackerjack 2 and Tuckerbox, is mixed.
The sowing rate of triticale for grazing is 100 to 120 kg/ha and for barley 80 to 110 kg/ha. Higher rates on the sowing scale will produce a slightly quicker and bigger bulk of feed compared with the lower end. Obviously the lower sowing rates will survive and produce slightly better with below average rainfall during the growing season.
Consider your feed requirements in spring and early summer. The traditional oat varieties (late maturing types) such as Nile and Blackbutt, or ryegrasses, will provide feed through to late in the year but will provide little feed over winter when sown from late March. The quick-maturing crops of triticale and barley will cut out by mid-October/early November so you may need to consider paddocks of both to get you through the rest of the year.
Be sure not to graze forage crops too early – make sure they are well anchored (can’t be easily pulled out by hand) and the canopy has closed. Grazing too early can reduce the potential for regrowth and decrease the overall productivity of the crop.  Don’t graze below 10cm (4 inches) as growing points will be removed and there will be insufficient leaf for quick regrowth.
Quick crop growth is also dependant on adequate fertiliser (particularly nitrogen) at sowing and during crop growth. Consider topdressing after each grazing to maximise growth.
For more information on forage crops and other agronomy queries please contact
Jeff Lowien, Agronomist (Glen Innes) on 0427 102 680,
Georgie Oakes, Agronomist (Inverell) on 0409 855 704 or
Daniel White, Trainee Agronomist (Glen Innes) on 0429 217 066.

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