Si Central Science
Agricultural Research and Education Center
Research Report RC-1986-6 T 2 Jute 1986
SMALL GRAIN FORAGE PRODUCTION : OARiA& lf1Wlda
R. J. Stephenson, F. G. Martin, R. D. Barnett, and R. L. West-
Small grains are cool-season annual grasses suited to a wide range of
soils and cropping conditions. Rye (Secale cereale L.) and wheat (Triticum
aestivum L.) are best suited to fertile well-drained soils and are more
productive than other small grains on alkaline, acidic or more poorly drained
soils. Oats (Avena sativa L.) are most productive in a cool moist environment
and are relatively tolerant to wet soil conditions.
Small grains can provide a good quality forage for livestock during the
winter months when most producers have little if any hay. At this time of
year perennial grasses are dormant and if grown in prepared seedbeds or
overseeded in pastures will provide extended grazing. Quality of these
grasses varies depending on the stage of maturity at harvest. Crude protein
will generally run 12-20% and in vitro organic matter disappearance 65-75% if
cut prior to the boot stage of maturity.
Small grains respond to N, although P and K are also important. Large
amounts of N increase the danger of lodging, but when used for grazing is
generally of little significance. Phosphorus and K should be applied just
prior to planting and N topdressed when seedlings are approximately 1-3 inches
high and subsequently after grazing or harvesting. Initial grazing or
harvesting of the forage should be done before the meristems or growing points
reach 2-3 inches above the soil surface. Deferring the initial harvest can
result in reduced regrowth. The time of the first harvest will depend on
several factors such as: varietal differences, date of planting, rainfall,
temperature and seeding rates, but is approximately 45-55 days after planting.
New varieties are continually being released by private industry and
universities. These new releases are then evaluated in variety trials to
enable growers to make decisions on the type and variety of small grains which
may fit their operation.
Small grains seeded at the Ona Agricultural Research and Education Center
(AREC) consisted of: five wheats, three oats and three rye varieties. The
study was seeded on a clean tillered Ona fine sand November 19, 1985,
following a perennial grass crop for the third straight year. After the
1984-85 winter season, the land was allowed to revegetate to common
bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L.) for about 5 months, then rotovated for
small grains. Experimental design was a randomized complete block with four
1/ Assistant Professor, Agricultural Research and Education Center (AREC)
Ona; Professor, Department of Statistics, Gainesville; Professor, AREC
Quincy; Laboratory Technician III, AREC-Ona.
Prior to planting, 500 Ib/A of 0-10-20 (N-P20 -K20) + 20 Ib/A TEM 300
fertilizer was applied and disced into the soil. Nitrogen (34-0-0) was
applied at the rate of 60 lbs N/A 10 days after seedling emergence, followed
by 30 lbs N/A after each harvest.
All entries were irrigated with an over-head system applying a total of
three inches of water, one inch on three separate occasions to ensure seedling
All entries were drilled in six inch rows at a depth of 1.5 inches.
Seeding rates were: oats, two bu/A (64 Ibs) and wheat and rye at 1.5 bu/A
(wheat 90 Ibs; rye 84 Ibs).
Entries were harvested four times with a rotary plot harvester to a
stubble height of three inches. The initial harvest was made when most
entries were 15-18 inches. Subsequent harvests were made monthly.
Results and Discussion
Significant differences occurred among small grain varieties for
individual harvests and total dry matter yields (Table 1). Average total dry
matter yields for the small grains were similar with 3.7, 3.8 and 3.4 t/A for
wheat, oats and rye, respectively.
Harvests one and three provided the least amounts of forage for all grain
types. This was due to young immature plants at the first harvest, and dry
unfavorable growing conditions between the second and third harvests. Of the
three grains tested, average oat and rye yields were most uniform for the four
harvests (Table 1). Part of variation in forage distribution may have been
due to the entries tested.
Significant differences among entries were observed, particularly within
the wheats. Florida 301 wheat is a early maturing variety with most of the
yield occurring early in the growing season. At harvests 3 and 4, Fla 301 had
the lowest yields while Fla 302 and others increased or remained constant.
Ryegrass yields are low from January-February when small grains are producing
forage, and when small grains taper off (March-May) the ryegrass yields are
high. With this in mind it could be advantageous to plant an early maturing
small grain such as Florida 301 with ryegrass.
Leaf and stem rust (Puccinia recondita f. sp. tritici and P. graminis f.
sp. tritici) occurred on Coker 9323 and Fla 301 wheats. The amounts were
minimal and were observed only at the fourth harvest. Released varieties are
resistant to rust, but depending on the environmental conditions (particularly
warm temperature and high humidity), the rust can become severe enough to
reduce forage yields.
In order to determine true performance of a variety, testing should be
conducted for a period of at least three years. Several of the entries used
in these variety trials have been tested for three or more years and yields
are shown in Table 2. Little differences exist between oat varieties with
more notable differences within wheat and rye varieties. These are just a few
small grain entries and statistical analysis were not conducted on the data
Within each small grain type there exists superior varieties. Two wheats
yielded over 4 tons dry matter per acre, 'Coker 983 and 9227'; 'Citation'
oats, 4.2 tons/acre and 'Fla 401' rye, 3.9 tons/acre dry matter.
Table 1. Dry matter production of small grains
grown as forage at the
Harvest Dates Total
Brand Variety 1/15 2/15 3/17 4/21 Yield
Coker Coker 9227 0.6 de 1.2 bc 0.8 a 1.7 ab 4.2 a
Coker Coker 983 0.5 e 1.1 c 0.7 a 1.8 a 4.1 a
Coker Coker 9323 0.6 de 1.3 a-c 0.7 a 1.0 c-e 3.6 a-d
Fla AESt Fla 302 0.7 c-e 1.1 c 0.8 a 0.8 d-f 3.5 b-d
Fla AESt Fla 301 0.7 c-e 1.6 a 0.4 de 0.4 f 3.1 d
Average 0.6(16%)+ 1.3(35%) 0.7(19%) 1.2(32%) 3.7
Seed Co. Citation 1.0 ab 1.3 a-c 0.6 b 1.4 a-c 4.2 a
Coker Coker 820 0.8 bc 1.2 bc 0.4 c-e 1.3 b-d 3.8 a-c
Fla AESt Fla 502 0.6 de 1.3 a-c 0.4 c-e 1.1 c-e 3.4 b-d
Average 0.8(21%) 1.3(34%) 0.5(13%) 1.2(32%) 3.8
Fla AESt Fla 401 1.1 a 1.5 ab 0.3 e 0.9 c-e 3.9 ab
Fla Exp Rye 0.7 cd 1.1 c 0.5 bc 0.8 ef 3.2 cd
NAPBt Forger 0.9 bc 1.0 c 0.5 bc 0.9 c-e 3.3 b-d
Average 0.9(26%) 1.2(35%) 0.4(12%) 0.9(26%) 3.4
Means within a column followed by the same letters) are not significantly
different at the 0.05 level of probability according to Duncan's Multiple
NAPP, North American Plant Breeders; Florida AES, Florida Agricultural
values in parenthesis represent percentage of total seasonal yield at that
Experimental entry, seed not available.
Table 2. Average small grain dry matter forage production of selected
varieties grown at AREC, Ona, 1982-1986. *
Brand Variety 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 Avg.
Fla AES Fla 301 1.8 0.6 1.5 1.5 3.1 1.7
Fla AES Fla 302 2.2 2.1 1.6 3.5 2.4
Coker Coker 820 1.4 2.2 2.0 3.8 2.4
Fla AES Fla 502 2.9 1.2 1.9 1.8 3.4 2.2
Fla AES Fla 401 2.1 0.9 1.7 t 2.1 3.9 2.1
NAPB Forger 3.1 2.3 2.7 3.3 2.8
Variety not tested that year.
tYearly yields of 1979-81.
*The 1982-85 data supplied by: P.
Overman and D. J. Mitchell.
Mislevy, R. D. Barnett, F. G. Martin, A. J.