Cool season forages diversify the cropping system and the ration and maximize fields’ productivity by adding several additional tons of dry matter yield to each acre’s yearly total. They also keep fields covered year-round, providing many of the soil benefits of a cover crop. You’ll get the most production out of these forages in the spring, but with early planting they may also be grazed in the fall.
Cool-season annual forages include small grains such as oats, barley, wheat, triticale, and rye; grasses such as annual ryegrass; and legumes like crimson clover and hairy vetch. With proper management in the spring – cutting or grazing by flag leaf to boot stage – you can keep the forage in the vegetative stage and reap the highest rewards in digestible energy and protein, which means excellent gains or milk production. Varied maturity dates give you options to find the best timing for your rotation.
Mixes give the greatest benefit because each species contributes different strengths and nutritional perks. Small grains have highly digestible fiber, while legumes and brassicas are high in protein. King’s AgriSeeds Soil Builder Plus combines triticale with hairy vetch, crimson clover, annual ryegrass, and Daikon radish, and has been a high yielder with excellent forage quality and winter survivability. Triticale Plus and Oats Plus combines the small grain with annual ryegrass for a multi-cut crop, and the annual ryegrass adds even more sugars and quality to the small grain forage.