Forages of the Brassica family are very useful for extending the grazing season when other forages are less productive. Brassicas can provide higher crude protein and digestibility at half the cost of hay or conserved forages. Brassicas have extremely high yield potential when grown on high fertility soils and carefully managed. Brassicas can produce as much as 40 tons (wet) per acre. Cold, drought and heat tolerant, these crops commonly provide valuable feed when other crops are less productive.
Barkant is a truly improved forage turnip variety. Bred for leaf production, it out yields most other turnip varieties available. Barkant is a popular variety in countries where the use of Brassicas already is more common: New Zealand, Australia, England and other European countries.
Planting and Establishment Barkant requires good soil drainage and a pH between 5.3 and 7.5. Seed should be planted in a firm, moist, seedbed. Barkant can be broadcasted or drilled with 6 to 8 inch rows. It is very important not to plant the seed too deep; one eighth of an inch will work best. Brassicas should be planted no more than 2 consecutive years in the same field to prevent disease and pest problems.
Management Within the Brassica family, turnips are the quickest species to establish. Barkant also has the potential of being grazed multiple times. The first grazing however, will be the most important one. It is important not to graze too large of an area at once. Strip-grazing prevents both yield and quality losses due to tramping and polluting. It is also important not to overfeed the cattle when they are allowed to graze the turnips at first. Extreme high dry matter intake of turnips (and other Brassicas) can cause health problems. Therefore, cattle should be allowed to adjust to the change of diet. Supplementing with other forages with less protein and sugars will also prevent problems. Both sheep and cattle can graze turnips.
Caution: Like many crops Barkant turnips if not terminated can self seed and become a weed issue in the following crops.