Annual forages can be included into designed crop rotations, and increase overall productivity and profitability. Less herbicide and insecticide need can also be a benefit.
Double crop with small grains: Most small grains also make great cover crops (Cornell Extension)
Late Summer Seeded Crops
A 50:50 mix of Proleaf 234 Oats and 4010 Forage Peas. Can be used for both forage and grain. Recommended seeding rate: 100 lbs/A.
Inoculate with pea-vetch inoculant for best legume nitrogen fixation.
A tall, leafy oat with high forage and grain yield. Very late in maturity, making it more suited for forage use (with the exception of cooler regions). Recommended seeding rate: 95-130 lbs/A for forage; 80-100 lb/A for cover crop.
A high-yielding, early maturity oat with a high test weight. Good for grain or forage. Short stature makes for excellent standability. Makes great straw. Recommended seeding rate: 150 lbs/A for forage; 80-100 lb/A for cover crop.
A taller, medium maturity grain variety that makes fast fill forage. Recommended seeding rate: 95-130 lb/A for forage; 80-100lb/A for cover crop..
A new spring Canadian forage oat with wide leaves and an excellent yield. With a leaf as wide as Everleaf and a fantastic leaf to stem ratio, it has very high quality and overall yield. A later maturing oat, but slightly earlier than Everleaf. Recommended seeding rate: 95-130 lb/A for forage; 80-100 lb/A for cover crop.
A leafy, later maturing forage oat. Very wide leaves and longer vegetative window for flexible harvest. Extremely high forage quality, stays leafier longer. Recommended seeding rate: 95-130 lbs/A for forage; 80-100 lb/A for cover crop.
A new release Canadian medium-maturity forage oat replacing Foragemaker 50. Recommended seeding rate: 95-130 lb/A; 80-100 lb/A for cover crop use.
A later-maturing, leafy variety; earlier than Everleaf. Excellent disease resistance. Recommended seeding rate: 95-130 lb/A; 80-100 lb/A for cover crop.
A medium maturity, taller, high yielding oat variety. Good overall disease resistance. Earlier than Jerry Oats for fast forage or grain. Recommended seeding rate: 95-130 lb/A; 80-100 lb/A for cover crop.
Brassicas are used to extend the grazing season into late fall/early winter, or to provide very high quality summer or fall grazing. Brassicas will not lignify in hot weather, resulting in very high-quality feed that helps cows pick up in milk. They can be seeded in a mix with millet or sorghum sudan, in which their seeding rate is very low. Sometimes cattle won’t eat them the first day or two. Introduce brassicas slowly and make sure they are supplemented with adequate effective fiber to slow the rate of passage. Brassicas are low in fiber. Typical forage analysis: 25% protein, 215 RFV.
Brassicas can also make an ideal fall or spring cover crop. See: Forage Turnip and Rape as a Cover Crop (Cornell Extension)
A forage turnip that was bred for fast, vigorous establishment and quick maturity (60-100 days). It is firmly anchored in the ground for minimum waste. Appin Turnips have multiple growing points, promoting excellent re-growth.
Appin is a unique forage turnip that was bred to give multiple grazings of high quality forage through-out the growing season. The Appin bulb is set firmly in the soil and has 6-10 growing points on the top of the bulb (these can be seen in the picture at right). The additional growing points allow for better regrowth and therefore multiple grazings. Appin can be sown with oats, annual ryegrass, pearl millet, sorghum sudangrass, cereal rye, and other grasses. The majority of the forage from Appin comes from the leaves, which have tested as high as 30% protein, 340 RFV, and 94% digestible. It is always desirable to feed additional fiber when grazing Appin.
When grazing dairy cows on Appin, beware of milk tainting and keep adequate time between feeding Appin and milking. Appin can be grazed multiple times with good fertility, moisture, and grazing management. Multiple grazing opportunities, plus twice the protein level of Purple Top Turnip, make Appin a great choice. Late-summer seeded fields of Appin and oats may be ready to be grazed in 40-50 days.
Spring seeded fields of Appin generally require 60-75 days of growth before the first grazing. Recommended seeding rate: 4 to 5 lbs/A.
Barkant is a vigorous summer/autumn turnip from Holland. It is extremely high yielding and bred specifically for increased leaf growth. The highest concentration of protein and yield is in the leaf. The tankard shaped bulb offers good accessibility. It’s suitable for milking, lamb fattening, ewe flushing or hog rearing. It can be grazed about 2 times. Recommended seeding rate: 4-5 lbs/A.
A new forage-type rape that is fast-maturing. Over-wintering. Barsica is a single or multi-graze forage crop that can be sown for summer, autumn or winter feed. It has higher protein and dry matter content than turnips. It can be sown from early spring to late summer depending on its use. While typically planted in a pure stand, it can be sown in combination with other forages. Recommended seeding rate: 4-5 lbs/A.
Dwarf Essex Rape
Dwarf Essex is a short, fine stemmed forage rape that is widely adapted. It has tolerance to cold, heat and drought. The highly palatable forage produces up to 20% protein and can be grazed 75 days after planting. It can be re-grazed at 30 day intervals, if given adequate time, nutrition and moisture. If fall planted, blooms early in spring (may bloom earlier than other components if used in a winter annual mix). Recommended seeding rate: 4-5 lbs/A.
Purple Top Turnip
An older turnip variety that is good for grazing and has a distinct purple ball-shaped bulb. Livestock graze both the tops and bulbs. As with other brassicas, strip-grazing is the ideal management. Recommended seeding rate: 4-5 lbs/A.
A turnip-like hybrid that is super for multiple grazings (no bulb). T-Raptor is a cross between a turnip and a rape. Excellent late summer supplemental feed source. Recommended seeding rate: 4-5 lbs/A.
High quality purple flower forage pea. Can be planted in spring or fall. Small seed size. Good to mix with spring oats, spring triticale, or spring barley for high quality, highly digestible feed. Recommended seeding rate: 80-100 lbs/A.
A high quality purple flower forage pea with small seed size. Long vines can reach up to 60 inches. Can be planted in spring or fall. Recommended seeding rate: 80-100 lb/A.
Winter Forage Peas
Forage peas produce extremely high forage quality and very high crude protein. Makes a good companion crop with oats and triticale. Performs best in cool weather. Recommended seeding rate: 60-100 lbs/A.
Forage peas must be inoculated with pea/vetch inoculant for best nitrogen fixation.
Keystone Winter Peas
Keystone is a new tall semi-leafless white flowering winter pea with excellent standability and nutritional value. King’s AgriSeeds has tested this pea for three years in Lancaster County, PA and it competes very well with winter annual weeds, as it has excellent early vigor in the fall growth and more spring growth than other peas that King’s has tested. Recommended seeding rate: 120 lb/A.
Austrian Winter Peas
A hardy winter annual pea that works best in mixtures and should be planted 1-2 weeks before recommended barley seeding dates. Austrian Winter Peas have long been the standard against which pea winter-hardiness was evaluated. Recommended seeding rate: 60-100 lbs/A.
Mixtures with Small Grains
A forage or cover crop mix of oats, annual ryegrass, and crimson clover. Cargo makes an excellent fall or spring feed, with high sugars, digestible fiber, and protein that result from the balance of grasses and legumes. It is a superb cover crop for southern Pennsylvania (south of I-78) and further south because the crimson clover is less winter hardy and both the crimson clover and annual ryegrass will over-winter well in these locations. The benefit of crimson clover is that it flowers early and will fix nitrogen earlier in the spring than other legumes. Annual ryegrass has very extensive root growth and improves soil structure better than cereal grains. The oats in the mix will grow rapidly in the late summer/early fall of the year, providing quick ground cover to hold soil and smother weeds. The fast oat growth also provides quick nutrient scavenging. The oats winter kill, but act as a nurse crop for the other components, and the oat residue provides a buffer over the winter. The annual ryegrass and crimson clover will be an overwintering grass/legume combination. Recommended seeding rate: 60-130 lbs/A.
Forage for this fall and next spring. A mixture of triticale, oats, and annual ryegrass. Oats boost fall yield but will winter kill. The next spring, harvest two aggressive cuts of excellent forage. Recommended seeding rate: 150-200 lbs/A.
A mix of TriCal 815 Triticale, crimson clover, hairy vetch, MO1 & KB Supreme Annual Ryegrass, and Daikon radish. An excellent spring forage and/or overwintering cover crop. Clovers and vetch provide protein in a forage application, and triticale and ryegrass contribute effective fiber and bulk. This mix is ideal for a spring grazing or cutting when the triticale reaches flag leaf or boot stage. Recommended seeding rate: 120-140 lbs/A for forage; 60-90 lb/A for cover crop.
A mixture of our 60% oats and 40% annual ryegrass. This mix combines the strength of each product and can be planted in early spring and late summer. When planted in late summer, oats and ryegrass provide productivity for fall harvest. The following spring, either graze or harvest using an aggressive two cut system. Recommended seeding rate: 75-90 lbs/A.
This is a versatile 8-way cool season mix made up of grasses, legumes, and brassicas that can be used a short-term cover crop, a soil-building transition crop to renovate depleted soils, a grazing mix, or some combination of these. It also contains several blooming species that, if left to grow and flower, will attract beneficial species. The mix is beneficial for both no-till and conventional-till soils and consists of all Non-GMO seeds. Recommended seeding rate: 50 lbs/A for cover crop or forage.
Triticale Plus Mixture
A mixture of 2/3 triticale and 1/3 annual ryegrass. Designed for one or two spring cuts of haylage. This mixture will have excellent NDFd when harvested prior to boot stage. Even more tonnage than triticale by itself. Works great to thicken old alfalfa fields in the fall for one huge cutting the following spring. The triticale will add some bulk to the forage for easier silo unloading. Plant in mid-fall. Recommended seeding rate: 90-140 lbs/A.
- Great forage for double cropping
- Utilizes lots of nutrients
- Great for baleage or grazing
- Higher sugars for better fermentation and VFA profile
- More energy than triticale
Late Summer Nurse Crops
We have found that using TriCal 815, Oberkulmer Spelt and oats help suppress chickweed and other winter annual weeds in pasture and hay seedings. These nurse crops also help protect the desired crop from winter kill and heaving, especially if seeded late. Spelt and triticale also add to your spring production. Spelt is the easiest to dry in the spring. Important: Keep seeding rate low (about 25 to 30% of full seeding rate) and don’t let nurse crops get too tall.
Triticale is a cross between wheat and rye. There are many differences among varieties in both appearances and digestibility. We are offering Trical™ products, which have been bred for fiber digestibility. In addition to excellent forage quality, the heading date is similar to wheat – about two weeks after rye.
King’s 2700 Forage Spring Triticale to plant in the spring or fall. It is a spring awned forage type that is somewhat facultative. This means that if fall-planted, it can potentially survive a moderate or temperate winter. It grows vigorously until the third or fourth tiller and then enters a stall phase of five to eight days before resuming very rapid stem elongation and vegetative growth. The plant has a tall, erect growth habit and exhibits a dense canopy of dark green leaves. Tolerance of disease and tough growing conditions is superior to many other spring forages. Recommended seeding rate: 125-150 lbs/A.
A new high yielding variety that is about 3-4 days earlier than TriCal 815. Bolt is ideal to plant in addition TriCal 815 to spread the harvest window. Strong agronomics include resistance to lodging and disease. Bolt has been a top yielder in our research plots and analysis showed high forage quality, including digestible energy and sugars. Recommended seeding rate: 100-150 lbs/A.
Gainer 154 is a new high-yielding variety. It is very responsive to good fertility and crop management. With its early maturity (compared to some other triticales), early spring management is important. Apply spring fertilizer earlier to push the crop out of dormancy for maximum yield and protein. Recommended seeding rate: 100-150 lbs/A.
This leafy winter triticale was bred for high forage yield and quality. 815 consistently has the superior NDF digestibility in our test plots. Its maturity date is similar to most winter wheats. Very wide harvest window allows you flexibility in attaining both forage quantity and quality. Harvest before head emergence. Can be no-tilled into thin alfalfa stands to increase first cut tonnage. Also a great grain and straw product. Recommended seeding rate: 100-150 lbs/A.
Also available in Certified Organic.
Spelt is a late maturing small grain closely related to wheat. Most varieties are taller and more aggressive in growth than wheat. Spelt is managed similarly to wheat. As a nurse crop, seeding rate must be lower and forage must be harvested before spelt suppresses main crop. Seed at 110 to 150 lb/A with 150 lb being a goal for forage use. Most drills need to be wide open because of the seeds’ bulkiness. More fall growth than triticale.
A shorter variety with high grain yield and less lodging due to shorter height. Ideal for feeding grain to livestock. Recommended seeding rate: 125 lbs/A.
A true spelt containing no wheat germplasm. This variety is tall and robust which makes it a great variety for forage harvest prior to flag leaf emergence. Oberkulmer forage quality is very good and can also be used for grain and straw. Very late heading date with a very wide harvest window. Recommended seeding rate: 125 lbs/A.
Sonic is an improvement on the Oberkulmer variety and is expected to equal or out yield Oberkulmer in forage production due to its equal height, more vigorous growth habit and much improved disease resistance and yield. During development and testing trials, Sonic averaged 10% higher grain yield than Oberkulmer. Recommended seeding rate: 125 lbs/A.
A taller food-grade spelt exhibiting better standability and winter survival. A brown chaffed variety that heads out several days earlier than Oberkulmer. Also a good forage. Recommended seeding rate: 125 lbs/A.
Rye is cereal crop grown for grain or forage. Rye grain is used for flour and rye bread, as well as animal fodder. Nearly half of the rye grown in the United States is harvested for grain, with the remainder used as pasture, hay, or as a cover crop. Winter rye is planted in the fall to provide ground cover and can be harvested as a crop or tilled directly into the soil in spring to add more organic matter.
A Canadian Rye that is leafier and later than local rye. Recommended seeding rate: 168 lbs/A.
Also available in Certified Organic.
Awnless, tall red winter wheat. Very high yielding and multipurpose, with 50 percent higher straw yields. Recommended seeding rate: 100-150 lb/A.
Winter Annual Legumes
With nitrogen prices going up in recent years, interest in winter annual legumes have increased dramatically. Much research by universities and other organizations is currently in progress. Many farmers are also experimenting, with much success. However, we are still learning much on this topic. Lots of nitrogen can be produced during flowering of these nitrogen fixing crops. Some of our dealers are doing test plots to try to fine tune management.
A high quality winter annual that can be used for both forage (usually in combination with a small grain or annual ryegrass) or as a nitrogen fixing cover crop. Will be ready for plow down in Lancaster in early May. Adapted to warmer parts of Pennsylvania and south. Crimson clover also has a beautiful crimson colored flower. Plant by September 1st for best results in Lancaster, PA. Ready to plow down 2 to 3 weeks earlier in spring than hairy vetch. Recommended seeding rate: 15-25 lbs/A.
Must be inoculated with clover inoculant for best nitrogen fixation.
A winter annual that can provide both a cover crop and produce nitrogen during late April to late May. Do not plant where small grains are to be used as a cash crop, as it can become a weed. Plant by mid-September in Lancaster, PA. Recommended seeding rate: 25-30 lbs/A.
Must be inoculated with pea/vetch inoculant for best nitrogen fixation.
Watch “Annual Ryegrass – Discovering the benefits”
Both annual and Italian ryegrasses make superior quality forage that is excellent in providing energy through high sugars, pectins and digestible fiber. Management is critical for success and occasional winter injury may occur if winter arrives “overnight”. However, it seems we get very little injury if seeded with small grains. For those without experience with annual ryegrass, we suggest that these ryegrasses be incorporated into your system through our mixtures.
See our tech sheet Managing Annual and Italian Ryegrass as a Double Crop
Note: We constantly are looking for the most winter hardy products. For folks in Northern Pa and further north, Barenbrug’s Green Spirit Italian Ryegrass makes excellent forage without heads if seeded in the spring.
Kodiak is a high yielding, high quality annual ryegrass that produces a high quality feed. Kodiak has a medium-early maturity and excels in plant vigor, tiller density and forage yield. It is perfect for grazing, silage, cover cropping, and also winter-overseeding. Kodiak is a diploid variety developed by DLF Forage Seeds’ breeding program located in Philomath, OR and Boyd, KY. With its resistance to diseases and superior cold tolerance, Kodiak will be a great pick for your annual ryegrass. Recommended seeding rate: 35-40 lbs/A.
A new winter-hardy variety with high yield and quality. It performed quite well in Penn State Trials. Recommended seeding rate: 35-40 lb/A.
This is a diploid annual ryegrass that was bred in Missouri and selected for improved winter hardiness and forage yield. Winter hardiness is a major consideration of annual ryegrasses. MO-1 is the annual ryegrass variety of choice in situations where winter survival is a concern. MO-1 produces excellent annual forage if planted alone or in combination with fall-sown small grains and annual clovers such as crimson clover. Recommended seeding rate: 35-40 lbs/A.
This is a premium, late-maturing blend of Tetraploid and Diploid Italian Ryegrass, benefitting from the diversity of the two, and performing well over the last 5 years. Does not go to head over the summer when spring seeded. Works best in Northern PA and further north, where summers are not too hot and dry. Recommended seeding rate: 35-45 lbs/A.
“I grew a Green Spirit Italian Ryegrass cover crop and planted corn behind the ryegrass in different fields. One field had no ryegrass, one field had ryegrass for one winter, and one field had ryegrass for two winters in a row. I planted the ryegrass in the fall and chopped it and burned it down in the spring before the corn. The PSNT test [Pre-Sidedress Nitrate Test for corn] came back that the field without the ryegrass had 26 ppm, the field planted one time in ryegrass had 34 ppm, and the field planted twice in ryegrass had 44 ppm.
No synthetic nitrogen was applied to any of these fields. The field that tested the highest only had poultry litter applied, and the first field that tested the lowest had both poultry litter and dairy effluent applied.
In the fields that were in ryegrass, the corn looked much better. Where the ryegrass had been two years in a row, it looks even better. The corn in those fields was planted late, but by now it almost caught up to the early-planted corn. It’s been on the dry side this year, but the corn is doing well.
The fields that had the ryegrass cover crop appear to be holding moisture better, or else the corn is able to root down deeper. When it gets dry around here, the effects on the corn usually show up in a hurry, but not this year.
I’m thinking that the ryegrass is rooting down deep, and also has a very fibrous root system, and it’s bringing up some nitrogen and making it available to the corn.”
– Jared Cupp, King’s customer, Dayton, VA
A tetraploid-diploid blend of European bred Italian Ryegrasses. If seeded in the spring in cooler climates it will make several cuttings per year of very high quality forage. Avoid droughty and/or low fertility soils. Also available in Certified Organic. Recommended seeding rate: 35-45 lbs/A.
Storm combines the early spring growth and yield potential of Italian ryegrass with the quality, persistence and disease resistance of perennial ryegrass. Similar to a festulolium. Certified Organic. Recommended seeding rate: 30-40 lbs/A.
Late Winter to Early Spring Seeded Crops (Spring or Fall Annuals)
See section above. Brassicas are excellent in a spring or fall mix with oats.
AC King’s Spring Barley
A strong two row spring barley that can be used for fast forage or grain. Recommended seeding rate: 125-150 lbs/A.
See “Oats” section above, under “Late Summer Seeded Crops”.