If one of these strategies has merit for fields you are working with; now is the time to review barley variety options and make plans for barley planting in September or October.
Winter Barley can be grown as quality forage (barley haylage, barleyage) in the Mid-Atlantic and certain areas of the Northeast.
Here are some potential ways to include barley in rotation and feeding options to consider:
After early corn silage comes off OR following a summer annual forage, barley can be planted in September. Harvest the barley for forage at boot stage or for high moisture grain (harvesting about a week earlier than typical grain harvest) OR harvest for barley grain.
Barley in rotation:
- When harvested as a forage at boot stage in spring it can still be followed with corn.
- When harvested at high moisture grain stage we can double crop following it with
- – Soybeans
- – Follow it with a summer annual sorghum-sudangrass or sudangrass, or forage sorghum, harvesting either one of these summer annual options for forage.
- Barley high moisture grain with early cut straw can be utilized as a feed, rather than using dry straw as a bedding material.
- In our longer season growing areas (Southeastern PA and to the south) we can consider a short season corn for grain or silage, and no-till barley after the corn in late September/early October. After barley harvest, follow with double crop soybeans or other summer annuals in June.
- Consider planting barley with crimson clover as we did for forage to increase yield and feed value.
- Winter Barley can be over-seeded (frost seeded) with red clover. After the grain harvest the red clover will grow, and the first cutting of the red clover will be “stubble hay” with some barley stubble in it. After another cutting, let the clover over winter either as a legume cover crop for corn the following year, or a spring clover hay or haylage cutting can be made.
Growing winter barley for grain also has potential fit in fields with shallower soils where drought stress impacts corn profitability. A barley grain harvest can also provide some cash flow in the summer. Consider barley as a partial substitute for corn to stretch purchased corn grain in beef or dairy rations.
Barley grain has about 95% of the energy of corn and is higher in fiber. For best utilization in the rumen of dairy cows the barley grain should be ground or rolled. Coarse processing may make sense for non-lactating diets or calf grains that are meant to be a “textured feed”, BUT for feeding in dairy rations and storage in the grain bin, fine grinding is optimum.
Rolling or coarse grinding increases rate of passage out of the rumen and the dry grain is not fermented (broken down, digested), and we lose the energy value we have put it the diet to provide. Coarse processing may make sense for non lactating diets or calf grains that are meant to be a “textured feed” but for dairy rations, we want fine ground barley. Protein in barley grain will vary with growing conditions and nitrogen application, protein ranges can vary from 7 to 13 percent. But typically on average Barley will provide more protein than most other grains.
Protein in barley grain will vary with growing conditions and nitrogen application; protein ranges can vary from 7 to 13 percent. But typically on average Barley will provide more protein than most other grains.