Spring Cereal Forages (2007)

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Central Agricultural Research Center


Spring cereal forages are a significant component of Montana’s forage production. Like most crops, soil fertility, variety selection and other cultural practices impact spring cereal forage yield and quality. Cereal forages are frequently utilized for two to three growing seasons to provide diversity in an alfalfa production system. Harvesting cereals as forages provides the opportunity to remove weeds prior to seed set without the use of herbicides. The firm soil and short stubble left after cereal forage harvest often provides an ideal seed bed for late summer and fall seeding of perennial forage species. Early seeding of spring cereal forages, particularly barley, is encouraged to maximize plant growth during cooler spring temperatures. Spring germinating weeds are less of a concern in cereal forages compared to cereals for grain because the crop is typically harvested prior to weed seed maturation. Plus, the weedy plants can contribute to the forage yield. However, dense weed populations can reduce robust growth and rooting depth resulting in reduced yields. Also, some weed species, such as kochia, may accumulate nitrates at levels higher than the cereal forage. Haybet, Hays and Stockford are three currently popular hooded barley varieties. Tables 4, 5 and 6 provide data showing the relative production of these varieties across several environments. Note the inconsistency of the yield rankings of these varieties. This illustrates the affect that the environment, including the weather on a given year, can have on the relative yield of a variety.



Agronomy, Plant sciences


Wichman, D.M., 2007. Spring Cereal Forages. Moccasin, Mt.: Central Agricultural Research Center.
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