Forida Cooperative Extension Service
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES
October 7, 1983 Number 150
WHEAT FOR GRAZING AND GRAIN
It has been widely accepted that wheat could not be used for both grazing
and grain without making a large sacrifice in grain yields. However, recent
field trials with Florida 301 wheat show that it may be grazed for up to six
weeks during late December and January without greatly reducing grain yields.
This will also ensure some use of the wheat crop in case of severe grain loss
from disease or drought, or a low market price. Wheat forage is more palat-
able to cattle than rye, and cattle make better gains from it. There are some
important practices that must be followed to use wheat for forage without re-
ducing final grain yields. The following practices are the best information
available for use as grazing and grain.
Wheat should be planted between November 15 and December 15 for grain
production while wheat grown for grazing must be planted earlier (October 15
to November 15) to begin grazing by late December. If Florida 301, Coker 797,
or Hunter are planted in October with the intention of grazing and for some
reason they are not grazed, the grain crop may be lost to a late season freeze.
These varieties all have a relatively low vernalization (chilling) requirement and
may head out too early in the spring unless their growth and development is re-
tarded by grazing. Do not plant early if wheat is not to be grazed. Wait un-
til at least mid-November to plant these three varieties for grain. A seeding
rate of 1 1/2 bushels should be used if drilled in rows and up to 2 bushels per
acre if broadcast and disked in.
Wheat planted for grazing and grain should have 60 Ibs/A of nitrogen at
planting. If the above practices are followed, and if rainfall and temperature
are favorable, grazing can begin during late December. Large animals tend to
pull instead of cut the wheat leaves. Well developed roots are needed to prevent
young plants from being pulled up when larger animals are grazing. The wheat
crop should be well established before grazing begins.
The number of animals that can be grazed on an acre varies with soil and
environmental conditions. However, no more than 1,000 pounds of animal weight
per acre should be allowed on a pasture. It is important to use caution when
grazing wheat. Rye is normally grazed very close for long periods of time.
Grazing pressure on wheat should never be high enough to result in less than
a 3-inch canopy height at any one time. Higher grazing pressure will result in
serious losses in wheat grain yields. If plant growth is slow due to cold tem-
peratures, lack of fertilizer or dry weather, reduce the number of animals to
less than 1,000 pounds animal weight per acre. Graze for no more than six
weeks. Grazing should not be continued beyond the time when stem elongation
begins and just before jointing (Fig. 1). This will be at different calendar
dates for different varieties and will depend on seasonal temperatures as well.
Cattle will have to be removed from the early maturing varieties earlier than
from later maturing varieties.
The second application of 60 Ibs/A nitrogen along with sulfur and potash
on sandy soils should be made as soon as the cattle are removed to stimulate
tiller growth and seed production. This would make a total of 120-150 Ibs
nitrogen/A for grazing and grain as compared to a total of 80 needed for grain.
After cattle are removed management practices used in grain production should
Where grazing is desired for the entire season, wheat may be substituted
for rye though production through the coldest winter months may be less with
wheat. Reasons to consider planting wheat for grazing over rye include,
higher rye seed prices, plentiful wheat supply, and a rather short rye seed
supply. Results of the wheat clipping trial conducted at Quincy in 1983 are
presented in Table 1. It is apparent from this data that there are consider-
able differences among varieties in forage production and season of production.
Usually the best forage producers are the later maturing varieties since they
produce their forage over a longer period and are less affected by cold periods
during the winter. Florida 301 is an excellent early season forage producer
but does not produce forage over an extended period while Coker 916, a later
maturing variety, produces little early season forage but does well in the late
portion of the grazing season.
Where wheat is to be grazed without regard for seed production, seeding
an early season wheat with ryegrass will extend the grazing period and produce
more total forage than either species alone.
D. L. Wright E. C. French
R. D. Barnett M. Swisher
Use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of'providing
specific information. It is not a guarantee or warranty of products named and
does not signify approval to the exclusion of others of suitable composition.
This public document was promulgated at a cost of $130.81 or .07 cents
per copy to inform interested persons of wheat for grazing and grain.
Table 1. Wheat Forage Trial at Quincy in 1983.
Brand or Forage Yield Pounds Per Acre Dry Matter
Originating 1st Clip 2nd Clip Total Through 3rd Clip 4th Clip Season
State Variety 1--12-83 2-21-83 2-21-83 3-22-83 4-29--83 Total
Texas Tex. 73-93 130 d-h 560 e-g 690 fg 1746 a-c 2711 b 5147 a
Coker 747 47 gh 227 fg 274 g 1317 ef 3527 a 5118 a
Coker 916 175 c-g 613 e 788 ef 1510 c-e 2720 b 5018 a
Florida Florida 302 306 a-c 1032 bc 1338 bc 1733 a-d 1697 ef 4769 ab
Rohm & Haas HW 3007 131 d-h 565 e-g 696 fg 1518 c-e 2501 b-d 4716 ab
Rohm & Haas HW 3006 428 a 780 c-e 1209 b-e 1143 ef 2288 b-d 4640 ab
Georgia Stacy 235 cd 697 c-e 932 c-f 1542 c-e 2145 c-e 4619 ab
NAPB Southern Belle 147 d-h 539 e-g 685 fg 1305 ef 2549 bc 4539 ab
Florida FL737-G3-12-2-B2 148 d-h 683 c-e 831 d-e 2022 ab 1257 f-g 4110 bc
NAPB Hunter 291 bc 975 b-d 1266 b-d 1883 a-c 659 hi 3808 cd
Coker 762 54 f-h 805 c-e 859 d-f 2135 a 801 g-i 3795 cd
Florida Florida 301 393 ab 1694 a 2087 a 1239 ef 420 i 3746 cd
North Carolina Blueboy II 201 c-e 583 e 784 ef 1150 ef 1715 ef 3649 cd
Georgia Omega 78 102 d-h 805 c-e 907 c-f 1863 a-c 857 g-i 3628 cd
NK-McNair 1003 65 e-h 576 e-f 641 fg 1793 a-c 1179 f-h 3613 cd
NK-McNair 1813 187 c-f 755 c-e 941 c-f 1795 a-c 845 g-i 3581 cd
Indiana Arthur 71 49 gh 210 g 260 g 1337 d-f 1964 de 3561 cd
Florida FL74265-10-A2-B2 51 f-h 620 de 671 fg 1884 a-c 811 g-i 3366 d
Coker 797 408 ab 1196 b 1604 b 970 f 651 hi 3225 d
Arkansas Doublecrop 32 h 504 e-g 536 fg 1728 b-d 867 g-i 3131 d
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different at the
Planting date 11-12-82. 5 replications in a randomized complete block
Applied 700 Ibs/A 7-8-8 preplant. Topdressed with 50 Ibs N/A twice
5% level according to Tukey's test.
design. Plot size = 10' x 4', harvested 26.7 ft2.
during the season.
1 One shoot (number of leaves can be added)
2 Beginning of tillering
3 Tillers formed. leaves often twisted spirally. In
some varieties of winter wheats, plants may
be "creeping" or prostrate
4 Beginning of the erection of the pseudo-stem,
leaf sheaths beginning to lengthen
5 Pseudo-stem (formed by sheaths of leaves)
6 First node of stem visible at base of shoot
7 Second node of stem formed, next-to-last leaf
8 Last leaf visible, but still rolled up, spike
beginning to swell
9 Ligule of last leaf just visible
10 Sheath of last leaf completely grown out,
spike swollen but not yet visible
10.1 First spikes just visible awnss just showing in
barley, spike escaping through split of
sheath in wheat or oats)
10.2 Quarter of heading process completed
10.3 Half of heading process completed
10.4 Three-quarters of heading process completed
10.5 All spikes out of sheath
10.5.1 Beginning of flowering (wheat)
10.5.2 Flowering complete to top of spike
10.5.3 Flowering over at base of spike
10.5.4 Flowering over, kernel watery ripe
11.1 Milky ripe
11.2 Mealy ripe, contents of kernel soft but dry
11.3 Kernel hard (difficult to divide by thumb-nail)
11.4 Ripe for cutting. Straw dead
(After E. C. Large. 1954. Plant Pathol. 3:128-129)
.- T ILLE RING -
STAGE 4 leaf
STAGE ShAGE oth,
STAGE 3 lof strongly
2 sheaths erected
l ncrling formed l hn
Growth stages of wheat.
at this stage