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Forage potential of spring and winter cereal mixtures in a short-season growing area

Jedel, P.E., Salmon, D.F.
Agronomy journal 1995 v.87 no.4 pp. 731-736
triticale, Hordeum vulgare, Secale cereale, forage crops, dry matter accumulation, crop yield, crop quality, silage, continuous cropping, protein content, fiber content, spring, sowing date, Alberta
Cereal crops are often used in short-season growing areas as annual forages for silage, greenfeed, or pasture. Field tests were conducted at Lacombe, AB, Canada, from 1989 to 1991 to determine the forage yield and quality of spring cereal monocrops of 'Wapiti' spring triticale (X Triticosecale Rimpani Witt.) or 'Johnston' spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and of binary mixtures of the spring cereals with 'OAC Wintri' winter triticale or 'Musketeer' winter rye (Secale cereale L.) grown at 1 X (260 seed m-2) and 1.5X normal seeding rate. Dry matter (DM) yield and quality were determined for two simulated forage regimes: (i) a soft-dough cut for silage, followed by fall clipping, and (ii) annual pasture with up to five clippings during the growing season. Yields of the spring cereal monocrops were 3.34 to 15.94 t ha-1 when harvested for silage, with fall clipping yields of 0.00 to 1.00 t ha-1. Yields for the mixtures were 2.88 to 14.64 t ha-1, with fall clipping yields of 0.05 to 2.39 t ha-1. For the annual pasture regime, initial clipping yields of spring cereal monocrops were 0.29 to 196 t ha-1; yields of the mixtures were 0.18 to 1.93 t ha-1. Monocrop yields declined over the growing season, while yields from the mixtures increased to midsummer and then declined (but less rapidly than for the monocrops). Under the annual pasture regime, quality of all treatments for the early clippings was similar, but by late summer and fall the mixtures had higher protein and lower acid-detergent fiber concentrations than the spring cereal monocrops. The 1.5X seeding rate resulted in higher DM yield when harvested for silage and for the initial clip when harvested for annual pasture. Spring-winter cereal mixtures may extend productivity and high quality of annual pastures in short-season growing areas.