Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Small Grains for Cattle Grazing

Posted by romeethredge on November 1, 2013

Small grains being grown for grazing are looking good. They are needing water in most cases, and some fields have needed caterpillar sprays but there are even some where the cattle are feeding already.  This field of rye looks like a carpet, except for the scattered corn plants.


This calf is waiting to be soon moved from the Bermuda ,with her mama, to the lush winter grazing nearby. He had a good, built in mask for Halloween last night.


Here’s some information partly from Bobby Smith of UGA Extension:


is probably the most popular small grain for winter annual pastures in Georgia. It is the earliest maturing and most cold-hardy small grain species. Seedlings are more drought and heat tolerant than wheat or oats and fall forage production is superior to wheat. Rye has generally matured and is ready to till by mid to late April in the Coastal Plain. This early maturity makes rye an excellent winter forage on cropland that will be planted to corn next spring. A minimum of two bushels of rye should be planted per acre.


is another popular small grain for winter forage production. Seed can be cheaper than rye, but this varies from year to year. Wheat is also a cold hardy species and is later maturing than rye; however, wheat produces less fall forage than rye or oats. One problem with planting too much wheat for grazing or cover crop is that you can build disease that may affect future wheat grain crops. Peanut and cotton fields can be planted in wheat without interfering with spring planting. At least two bushels of wheat should be planted per acre.


are also an option for winter grazing. Oats are highly palatable, but are the least cold tolerant of the winter annuals. Stands can be thinned or lost in cold weather which can limit the productivity of oats in northern areas of the state. Risk of forage losses from winter kill can be minimized by mixing oats with more cold hardy small grains like wheat or rye. Oats are similar to wheat in maturity. Four bushels of oats should be planted per acre.

Annual ryegrass

is the latest maturing of the winter annual grasses and can be grazed until early June in some areas of the state with favorable moisture. This late spring production results in excellent overall forage yield, but can delay greenup of Bermuda grass. If spring ryegrass growth is not managed, Bermuda grass stands can be severely thinned from shading. Ryegrass may generate a small amount of forage in late fall when planted on clean-tilled land, but this production is extremely dependent on favorable rainfall and temperature. Ryegrass can be damaged in cold weather, and cold tolerance varies among varieties.  If a row crop will follow ryegrass it may be a problem to burn down. Twenty to thirty pounds of ryegrass should be no-till planted or broadcast per acre.


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