Agronomy and Horticulture Department



Robert B. Mitchell

Date of this Version



American Journal of Plant Sciences 15:3 (March 2024), pp. 180-192.

doi: 10.4236/ajps.2024.153013


This article is a US government work and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


In addition to their value as cereal grains, wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and triticale (× Triticosecale Wittmack) are important cool-season annual forages and cover crops. Yearling steer (Bos taurus) performance was compared in the spring following autumn establishment as for age cover crops after soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] grain harvest. Replicated pastures (0.4 ha) were no-till seeded in three consecutive years into soybean stubble in autumn, fertilized, and grazed the following spring near Ithaca, Nebraska, USA. Each pasture (n = 3) was continuously stocked in spring with four yearling steers (380 ± 38 kg) for 17, 32, and 28 d in 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively. In 2005, average daily gain (ADG) for steers grazing triticale exceeded the ADG for wheat by 0.31 kghd−1d−1. In 2006, wheat ADG exceeded that for triticale by 0.12 kghd−1d−1. In 2007, steers grazing wheat lost weight, while steers grazing triticale gained 0.20 kghd−1d−1. Based on the 3-year average animal gains valued at $1.32 kg−1, mean net return ($ ha−1yr−1) was $62.15 for triticale and $22.55 for wheat. Since these grazed cover crops provide ecosystem services in addition to forage, grazing could be viewed as a mechanism for recovering costs and adds additional value to the system. Based on this 3-year grazing trial, triticale was superior to wheat and likely will provide the most stable beef yearling performance across years with variable weather for the western Cornbelt USA.