Wheat Grain and Forage Yields are Affected by Planting and Harvest Dates in the Central Great Plains
Published in Crop Sci. 41:488–492 (2001).
Although grazing of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is a common practice in the southern Great Plains, little is known about the efficacy of wheat as a dual-purpose crop in the Nebraska Panhan- dle. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of establish- ment and harvest times on forage and grain production of wheat cultivars adapted to the region. Six cultivars were planted at four dates (very early, recommended early, recommended late, and very late) in each of 3 yr. Forage samples were taken from a previously nonharvested area late in the fall, at jointing, and at the boot stage. Grain yield at maturity was measured from each forage harvest treatment and from a full-season unharvested control. In 2 of 3 yr, grain yield was reduced an average of 25% compared with the full-season check when plants were harvested for forage at the joint stage. No grain was produced when forage was removed at the boot stage. Forage removal during the fall averaged 1300 kg ha-1 dry matter and resulted in insignificant losses in grain yield. While most of the fall growth was too low to the ground for clipping, it could provide high- value supplemental grazing on account of the high crude protein (310 g kg-1) and in vitro organic matter digestibility (800 g kg-1) levels. Spring grazing in this region is limited to the time prior to jointing if market conditions favor grain production.