Other Summer Annuals: Mixtures, Crabgrass, Millet, Teff and More
Summer Annual Mixes
To harvest as much sunlight as you can, your fields should have a living crop for as many months of the year as possible. We have developed a variety of mixtures designed and tested to improve soil health and or provide high quality forage.
Brassicas are used to extend the grazing season into late fall or early winter, or to provide very high quality summer or fall grazing. Brassicas will not lignify in hot weather, resulting in very high quality feed. They can be seeded in a mix with millet or sorghum sudan. The seeding rate is very low and it makes cows pick up in milk. Sometimes cattle won’t eat it the first day or two. Introduce them slowly and make sure adequate effective fiber is being fed. Brassicas are low in fiber. Typical forage analysis: 25% protein, 215 RFV.
Recommended seeding rate: 4-5 lbs/A
Crabgrass is a versatile summer forage that tolerates a variety of soils conditions. Positioned appropriately it can provide good grazing or hay throught the dry summer months. Crabgrass is self re-seeding if allowed to go to seed.
Seed 5-8 lbs/A
Millet is a warm season annual, similar to sorghum sudans, with no prussic acid danger. Millet needs a soil temper of 65 deg F or more to germinate, and growth slows down when cool weather comes. Frost kills it, but it can still be grazed with no fear of prussic acid. Will tolerate wetter years better than sudan. Like sorghum sudans, it can use lots of nitrogen. Safe for grazing horses and mules.
Seed 10-20 lbs/acre
Start grazing at 12 inches, but make sure the roots are not being pulled up. It should not be allowed to grow taller than 3 feet (or it will lose palatablity), nor grazed lower than 6 inches.
A very small seeded warm season grass that has fine leaves and stems. Teff is native to northern Africa (Ethiopia) and tolerates many soil conditions. Will make very palatable dry hay that livestock and horses love. Teff grass is also is good for grazing after 1st cutting. We were very pleased with its performance in 2007 in regard to yield, drydown, standability and quality.
Because this is a relatively new crop, we are still learning about its management. Many customers have had excellent performance even in severe drought. However, many customers had stand establishment problems which were also evident in some of our test plots. From the successes and failures we have learned the following about teff:
- Seed after soil has warmed over 60° F
- Weeds must be controlled prior to seeding
- Soil must be very firm prior to seeding. A cultipacker seeder (with all cracks taped up and the seeder practically closed) works well, but soil must be very firm prior to using the seeder.
- Seed very shallow (surface seeding is better than too deep). If using a drill, just scratch the seed in.
- Broadleaf weeds may need to be controlled with 2,4-D after the teff is established (3 or more leaves per plant)
- Thickening thin alfalfa stands has had good success for making dry hay in the summer months. Works best on late 1st cuttings and 2nd cuttings. Grass and annual weeds must be controlled prior to seeding.