When to stop grazing winter wheat

Research shows winter wheat can be a key grazing source for cattle through early spring. Here is some useful information producers should consider.

By

Lifestyle

November 23, 2021 - 9:46 AM

Winter wheat provides an excellent grazing source for cattle in the late fall and early winter months, but it can also provide good early spring grazing, even if you are planning to take the wheat to a crop. If managed correctly, these dual-system wheat crops can allow for high quality, spring, grazing, and optimal wheat yields.

Research shows that wheat can be grazed in the spring until the first hollow stem stage without a yield penalty. The first hollow stem stage can be found by splitting the main tiller on the wheat plant and finding the developing wheat head. The first hollow stem stage begins when the developing wheat head is approximately 1.5 centimeters above ground, or roughly the diameter of a dime. 

There are many factors that can affect the timing of first hollow stem. Planting date, seeding rate, weather, and wheat variety can all have an effect. Some quicker developing wheat varieties can reach the first hollow stem stage 3 weeks before other varieties.

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