NORTH FLORIDA EXPERIMENT STATION
NFES MIMEO REPORT 63-1
PRODUCTION OF SMALL GRAINS IN NORTH FLORIDA
by D. T. Sechler
Small grains are grown extensively in the North Florida area either for winter pasture,
grain, green manure or a combination of these. The choice of a particular grain and the
variety to use is quite dependent upon how the crop is to be used and growing conditions.
Suggestions included in this report are based on experimental work conducted at the North
Florida Experiment Station.
CHOOSING THE BEST GRAIN FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE
Rye will produce more forage than other small grains. Growing at lower temperatures
than oats or wheat, abundant forage is produced during the winter months when other pasture
is not available. The ability to grow under a wide range of conditions makes rye slightly
more dependable for winter grazing than the other small grains. It is better suited to the
lower fertility, sandy soils also. Rye forage is less palatable to livestock than oats or
wheat forage although this is not a problem unless unbalanced grain mixtures are used or
more than one crop is seeded in the same field. Rye is poorly suited as a grain crop
because of relatively low grain yields under Florida conditions and the fact that the grain
is less palatable and more likely to cause digestive disturbances than other grains. Rye
cannot be seeded as early as oats due to high seedling losses from diseases and high
Oats are best suited for both forage and grain.production. Unless overgrazed or grazed
too late in the spring, a desirable variety will produce a good yield of high quality grain
in addition to the forage. For good grain yields following fall and winter grazing, how-
ever, fertilizer applications must be adequate or the inherent fertility relatively high.
Erect types will provide earlier grazing than decumbent types but are more easily damaged
by uncontrolled grazing. Forage production of most oat varieties will exceed the production
of rye in late spring, but winter production is lower, being more dependent upon climatic
conditions. Oat forage is of high quality and even though production is usually below that
of rye, the gains of livestock per acre will usually be about equal. Oats do well on a
number of the better soil types in Florida and the grain provides a palatable, nutritious
livestock feed. Oats can be seeded relatively early without seedling loss.
Wheat is the most profitable of the small grains as a cash grain crop, but it is less
suitable than either rye or oats for grazing. Adapted wheat varieties make very little
growth until spring, thus little pasture is available when grazing needs are gr
Wheat is best suited to the heavier soils of Northwest Florida. Only soft w
produce grain of acceptable quality under Florida climatic conditions.
Barley has been found poorly adapted to this area. Disease problems akeS P 18 1
production of present barley varieties impractical either for grain or for e However,
with the advent of new varieties some of these disease problems may be over o.
SUGGESTED VARIETIES 4 aRA
Rye (late fall and early winter grazing) Wren's Abruzzi, Florida Black
(winter and spring grazing) Gator
Oats (fall grazing) Florad
(late fall, winter, and spring grazing) Suregrain, Radar 2, Floriland,
and Radar 1.
Wheat (not generally recommended for grazing) Coastal, Bledsoe, or Wakeland will
provide some late winter and spring grazing. Ga. 1123 is extremely late to
offer much grazing.
For grain production
Oats Siregrain, Moregrain, Radar 2, Radar 1, Florad
Wheat Wakeland, Ga. 1123
Rye Not generally recommended for feed grain production but Gator would be
preferable due to better grain quality and yield.
As a dual-purpose crop
Oats Suregrain, Radar 2, Radar 1, Floriland.
To assist in the selection of a desirable variety for specific conditions, a descrip-
tion of some common varieties is included along with tables showing comparative performance.
Gator A medium early variety with semi-winter growth habit and some mildew and leaf
rust resistance. Superiority of Gator is best shown in years when these diseases are
prevalent. Susceptible to anthracnose which may be a problem in grain production, usually
does not seriously reduce forage production. Non-uniformity of plant types is quite
noticeable from time plants start to joint until the full head stage. Kernels are plump
and light in color. Straw is tall but stiff and grain yields are relatively good. This
variety produces an abundance of vegetative growth for grazing over a longer period of time
than provided by other varieties.
Florida Black A very early maturing variety with an upright growth habit. Rather
susceptible to leaf rust, mildew, and anthracnose. Kernels are small and range from very
dark to medium light in color. Grain yield is good with slightly better test weight than
Gator. Makes more early growth than Gator but over-all forage production is less and
spring grazing period is shorter.
Wren's Abruzzi A medium early variety with upright growth type. Rather susceptible
to mildew and leaf rust. Appears to be more tolerant to anthracnose than any other rye
variety. Similar to Florida Black in that it will produce an abundance of early forage but
will provide grazing slightly later in spring than Florida Black.
Explorer A medium late semi-winter type with fair leaf rust resistance. Rather
susceptible to rnildeo and anthracnose. Grain yield is usually low. Provides grazing during
same season as Gator but usually in lesser amounts. Would have no advantages over Gator in
Elbcn is not considered a dependable variety because of its late maturity in relation
to leaf rust and anthracnose susceptibility. Balbo and Mississippi Abruzzi are winter
types that make very little growth during the winter months when grazing is needed.
Suregrain A medium early, hardy, high tillering variety with intermediate growth
habit. Good forage producer during winter and spring. Susceptible only to rare races of
crown rust and resistant to Victoria blight, culm rot, and smut. Short stiff straw with
kernel that is light in color, plump, and free of awns. High test weight and yield. An
excellent dual-purpose oat if both pasture and grain is needed.
Moregrain A variety similar in most ways to Suregrain. In Florida tests, however, it
has been much more susceptible to crown rust and lodging and has produced less forage.
Grain yield and quality are good.
Radar 1 An early, dual-purpose oat variety that makes a semi-erect growth and
produces an abundance of winter and spring forage. Short, stiff straw with relatively plump
kernels of a uniform golden yellow color. Susceptible to several new races of crown rust
but resistant to most as well as to smut, Victoria blight, and culm rot. Good yield and
Radar 2 A sister variety to Radar 1 with similar disease reaction and yield potential.
Slightly taller, larger kernels, and produces slightly more forage than Radar 1. Kernels
range in color from light yellow through white. Both Radar varieties are susceptible to red
leaf and soil-borne mosaic virus. Slightly superior to Radar 1 for grazing.
Floriland An early, high tillering variety with semi-winter growth habit. Excellent
forage producer during winter and spring. Susceptible to several new races of crown rust
but resistant to older races as well as Victoria blight, soil-borne mosaic virus, and culm
rot. Kernels are red, medium plump, awned, and have basal hairs which result in relatively
low test weight. Grain yields are fair.
Florad -- A very early variety with an erect growth habit and low tillering potential.
Makes more vigorous early growth but less spring growth than Floriland. More susceptible to
cold damage than Floriland but sufficiently hardy for Florida if properly managed. Due to
the rapid growth and possibility of damage from late spring freezes when seeded early and
not grazed, do not seed solely for grain production until late November or December. Straw
is tall but stiff. Resistance to crown rust and many other common diseases is the best
available in a commercially adapted variety but it is highly susceptible to soil-borne
mosaic virus. Kernels are light reddish-yellow in color, plump, awned (usually thresh off),
and normally free of basal hairs. Test weight and yield are usually good.
Red Rustproof #14 A tall, late variety with winter growth habit. Is rustproof only
in sense it is a late ruster and may escape some damage. Quite resistant to Victoria
blight and culm rot. Kernels are red, slender, and awned with basal hairs and sucker mouth.
Produces an abundance of very late forage. Grain yields are quite variable and straw is
Southland Not considered a dependable variety because of extreme susceptibility to
Seminole Not considered as dependable as Florad because of greater susceptibility to
Arlington and Victorgrain Not considered as dependable varieties because of suscepti-
bility to Victoria blight and prevalent races of crown rust.
Wakeland Matures earlier than Bledsoe with much shorter straw. Has semi-winter
growth habit. Resistant to mildew and prevalent leaf rust but susceptible to soil-borne
mosaic. Usually yields slightly higher than Bledsoe with high test weight.
Georgia 1123 Moderately short straw, awnlets, early maturing with resistance to leaf
rust, Hessian fly, and soil-borne mosaic. Moderately susceptible to mildew. Kernels
harder than the standard soft variety, Chancellor, and tends to be slightly lower than
Bledsoe in test weight. Heads appear less numerous than Bledsoe but yields are normally
Bledsoe A very tall but relatively stiff strawed variety. Semi-winter type of
growth and medium early maturity. Moderately resistant to mildew and soil-borne mosaic
but very susceptible to the new races of leaf rust. Bledsoe is no longer a dependable
variety in the commercial wheat growing areas because of the consistent prevalence of rust
races to which the variety is susceptible.
Coastal A medium tall, stiff strawed variety that is somewhat tolerant to leaf rust
and mildew. Growth is more upright than Bledsoe with a more abundant early growth. Is
superior to any varieties presently available for grazing but is not a dependable variety
for grain in commercial areas because of susceptibility to leaf rust and mildew.
Coker 47-27 and Coker 57-6 Not dependable varieties because of susceptibility to
leaf rust and mildew. Are too late and tall to fit well into a wheat-soybean rotation.
Anderson and Chancellor Not dependable varieties in North Florida because of late
maturity and disease susceptibility.
GENERAL SUGGESTIONS FOR GROWING SMALL GRAINS
Date of seeding Seed oats for grazing between September 15 and October 15. Do not
seed rye until after October 15. Good grain yields of oats and wheat may be obtained from
seedings made from November until late December.
Seeding Use, clean, viable seed of a recommended variety and sow on a clean, well-
prepared seedbed. Treat seed with Ceresan or Delsan to control seed-borne diseases.
Seedling loss can be reduced and yields of early forage increased by seed treatment.
Combination seedings Crimson clover can be seeded with oats or rye to lengthen
grazing season. For best results use an early, upright oat or rye variety. Sow 20 pounds
of crimson clover with 3 bushels of oats or 1 to 1 1/2 bushels of rye.
Rate of seeding If early grazing is desired 3 to 4 bushels of oats per acre should
be seeded. Two bushels are adequate for grain production or when seeding a high tillering
variety for late grazing. Seed most rye varieties at rates of 1 1/2 to 2 bushels per acre
although 1 bushel is adequate of a small seeded variety like Florida Black. From 1 to 1 1/2
bushels per acre of wheat should be seeded depending upon seed size.
Fertilization Apply 400-500 pounds per acre of 4-12-12 or a similar fertilizer at
time of seeding. For grain production topdress with 24 to 32 pounds of nitrogen per acres
when grain is 8 to 10 inches tall. For grazing apply 60 to 80 pounds of nitrogen per acre
preferably in split applications. A soil test should be taken to determine needs for other
Harvesting Do not graze until 6 to 8 inches tall. Do not overgraze. Rotational
grazing will utilize growth most efficiently. Rye must be kept grazed or the forage will
become stemmy and unpalatable. For hay, cut in soft dough stage. When grain is combined,
do not attempt to store grain containing over 12-13% moisture.
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