Farm Talk

July 30, 2013

Seeding forages into wheat stubble

Bruce Anderson

Parsons, Kansas — Wheat stubble can be an excellent seedbed to plant forages into using no-till. To be successful, though, may take some advance preparation.

No-till planting of alfalfa, turnips, summer annual grasses, or other cover crops into wheat stubble has many advantages. Soil moisture is conserved, erosion is reduced, weed seeds remain buried, and tillage expenses are eliminated. But despite these advantages, many growers still experience spotty stands.

To help ensure success when planting into wheat stubble, take a few extra steps. One of the biggest challenges is heavy residue, residue that might limit proper drill operation and seed placement or even might partly smother new seedlings. Residue can be especially troublesome right behind the combine even when using a good straw chopper. The best way to minimize this problem is to bale the straw and remove excess residue. And be sure to have a well-functioning drill.

Another challenge is weeds; annual weeds that develop after wheat is combined or volunteer wheat that sprouts later in the summer. Control weeds prior to planting with herbicides like glyphosate. And be ready with post-emerge herbicides like Select or Poast Plus when appropriate for latter emerging weeds or volunteer wheat.

Finally, consider cross-or double-drilling. Plant one-half of the seed while driving one direction, then plant the other half driving in a different direction. This helps fill in gaps, develops canopy and improves weed control earlier, and may help you plant the right amount of seed if you commonly end up running out or have much seed left over.

Wheat stubble makes a good seedbed. Make it even better with a few management adjustments. £