By Bruce Anderson, Extension Forage Specialist
Wheat stubble can be an excellent seedbed to plant forages into using no-till. It may take some planning, though, to be successful.
The first and most important step of double-cropping forages after wheat harvest is establishing a good stand? So what’s the trick to getting good stands? Well maybe, it’s planting no-till immediately after combining the wheat.
Spotty stands often result from top soil drying out rapidly after wheat has been combined. This may not be a serious situation under irrigation, but it can ruin dryland stand establishment. Fortunately, there usually is moisture near the soil surface during combining. To achieve a healthy stand plant without delay before this moisture evaporates.
No-till planting turnips, summer annual grasses, or other cover crops into wheat stubble has many advantages. Most importantly, soil moisture is conserved. In addition, erosion is reduced, weed seeds remain buried, and tillage expenses are eliminated.
Of course, there are other challenges to getting a good stand. Planting equipment must be adjusted and operated properly when planting into heavy straw residue. Weeds are another challenge, both annual weeds that develop after wheat harvest or volunteer wheat that sprouts later in the summer. Be ready with post-emerge herbicides like Select Max or Poast Plus when appropriate for later emerging weeds or volunteer wheat.