Triticale: double crop forage + cover
Research at Michigan State University is finding the end of September is an ideal time to plant triticale as a cover crop and forage.
Cover crops and forage educator Kim Cassida tells Brownfield the plant is a hybrid of wheat and rye.
“You grow it like any other small grain,” she says. “Most of the triticale that farmers are going to grow for forage is winter triticale, so it would be planted in mid-to-late September.”
Cassida says the spring harvest can be followed with corn silage for a second forage crop and rotate back to triticale for a winter cover. And, it can qualify for some incentive programs.
“At the same time, as they’re getting this extra forage,” she says. “Especially in a dairy area where it can be really difficult to find more land to grow more forage on, and you’re always trying to scrape that narrow margin, it can be really helpful.”
She says triticale needs to be harvested in the spring at the flag leaf stage before it heads for the best quality and protein levels.
“We often think of small grains forage as only being fit for heifer feed, but that’s when you wait and harvest it after it has headed out and started to fill some grain, and the quality of the leaf has really tanked at that point,” she shares.
Cassida says triticale also gives farmers an advantage during wet springs when planting can be delayed, as a crop is already growing.
Photo courtesy of Michigan State University.