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Thread: Wholecrop Silage

  1. #1

    Wholecrop Silage

    My agricultural tenant wants to plant Wholecrop silage, probably barley, on an annual field rotation. E.g. year 1 field 1, year 2, field 2, and so on.

    Question is, after he has done a field, does it need to be reseeded, if it is being used for grazing after the wholecrop silage is harvested or is it good to graze after the harvest? I'd have thought it needs to be re-seeded.

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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    Depends. If it's undersown the grass will be there ready, if not then yes it will need reseeding.

  3. #3

    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    Quote Originally Posted by Paw View Post
    Depends. If it's undersown the grass will be there ready, if not then yes it will need reseeding.
    Won't the ground be rough after ploughing to establish the crop, requiring it to be re-seeded & rolled after harvest?

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    Senior Member b slicker's Avatar
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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    If a good level seedbed can be obtained, a sensible method would be to sow a suitable grass-seed mixture along with about
    50kg/acre of barley. A herbicide can be applied later and the only requirement would be that it is safe for young grass. And a grass/barley mix would make better
    silage than barley alone.

    After harvest, if the undersown grass is worth retaining, if clover is wanted, it can be introduced by over-sowing using whatever method is deemed suitable.

    But as August said, the alternative is to direct reseed after harvest.

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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    Don't put grass under wheat. In fact, don't put it under any crop.

    Let him grow wholecrop wheat, chop it off in July, go back in later, about September (or earlier if weather permits), with a set of discs or light harrows, create a tilth, and drill the new ley. Roll firmly.

    With wheat the farmer can clean the ground up a treat as you can use some very potent chemistry that you can't use when grass is present.

    You can direct drill the grass seed after, depending on what chemistry has been applied to the crop beforehand.


    Where customers are doing a spring reseed, a lot of my guys drill spring barley in first at 35kg/acre (not more) and then drill the grass on top. Nitrogen and weed control, mow off in July, grass grows like stink afterward- the barley acts as a nurse crop.

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    Senior Member LALANS's Avatar
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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    Quote Originally Posted by Uwork4menow View Post
    Don't put grass under wheat. In fact, don't put it under any crop.

    Let him grow wholecrop wheat, chop it off in July, go back in later, about September (or earlier if weather permits), with a set of discs or light harrows, create a tilth, and drill the new ley. Roll firmly.

    With wheat the farmer can clean the ground up a treat as you can use some very potent chemistry that you can't use when grass is present.

    You can direct drill the grass seed after, depending on what chemistry has been applied to the crop beforehand.


    Where customers are doing a spring reseed, a lot of my guys drill spring barley in first at 35kg/acre (not more) and then drill the grass on top. Nitrogen and weed control, mow off in July, grass grows like stink afterward- the barley acts as a nurse crop.
    Totally disagree with what you say. I have been using wholecrop ( barley, oats, tares, vetches and peas)as a method for establishing a grass ley for years and it has proven the most reliable. A contractor with a wholecrop header cut when the cereal milky, additive used and after its been cut for a few days you would never have known that a wholecrop silage was taken off. Keep the wholecrop standing, so reduce seed rate and fertiliser. Never needed to use a herbicide.
    Also as its taken mid July you have several months of good grazing.

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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    Quote Originally Posted by LALANS View Post
    Totally disagree with what you say. I have been using wholecrop ( barley, oats, tares, vetches and peas)as a method for establishing a grass ley for years and it has proven the most reliable. A contractor with a wholecrop header cut when the cereal milky, additive used and after its been cut for a few days you would never have known that a wholecrop silage was taken off. Keep the wholecrop standing, so reduce seed rate and fertiliser. Never needed to use a herbicide.
    Also as its taken mid July you have several months of good grazing.

    With respect, your idea of wholecrop totally differs from mine.

    I have no intention of ever recommending anyone grow that mixture of 'weeds', that is not wholecrop in my book. How the heck would you even begin to control anything in that?

    When you have seen proper wholecrop, with starch in excess of what many managed in maize last year, you will be on the same page as me. Drilling a random selection of stuff and cutting it ain't wholecrop, that is arable silage- a classic shut the gate and leave it job, a far cry from what a lot of people in my region are doing. If folk want to do that, so be it, but if they are going through the cost and effort involved in drilling a crop, they might as well do it properly.

    Where dairy farms are growing wholecrop here, they do so as a chance to rotate the ground, make use of a lot of slurry or manure, and do a damn good job of it, whilst using the wheat as an opportunity to clean up the ground. Tell me how you would begin to control docks and thistles or weed grasses if you had drilled oats and peas?

    And lastly, if you manage to get wholecrop wheat to lodge, you are doing something very wrong. Why would I elect to drill oats on a farm that I know is highly fertile? That sounds like a recipe for a load of crown rust and lodging bundled into one. Not only that, but a good portion of chemistry is unavailable to use on oats which negates the point of us doing it in the first place.

    Peas/vetches/beans, yadda yadda, been there, done that. As above.

    I suspect your idea of a decent grass ley rather differs from mine as well.

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    Senior Member Wee Dram's Avatar
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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    Well LALANS that's you telt!

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    Senior Member LALANS's Avatar
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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    Quote Originally Posted by Wee Dram View Post
    Well LALANS that's you telt!
    Aye seems so.
    But do you smell shite?
    I'm sure I got a strong whif after reading the above post from u4me.
    As my late faither said 'I wish I was as sure of one thing as you young buggers seem to be about everything'

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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    Quote Originally Posted by LALANS View Post
    Aye seems so.
    But do you smell shite?
    I'm sure I got a strong whif after reading the above post from u4me.
    As my late faither said 'I wish I was as sure of one thing as you young buggers seem to be about everything'
    Knowing everything about everything is rather different to knowing the difference between a guy drilling peas and barley and then shutting the gate, then calling it 'wholecrop' and someone growing wheat conventionally and chopping it.

    Bitch all you like, I've grown both and I'm hardly going to bother trying to deceive myself.

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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    Quote Originally Posted by Uwork4menow View Post
    Don't put grass under wheat. In fact, don't put it under any crop.

    Let him grow wholecrop wheat, chop it off in July, go back in later, about September (or earlier if weather permits), with a set of discs or light harrows, create a tilth, and drill the new ley. Roll firmly.

    With wheat the farmer can clean the ground up a treat as you can use some very potent chemistry that you can't use when grass is present.

    You can direct drill the grass seed after, depending on what chemistry has been applied to the crop beforehand.


    Where customers are doing a spring reseed, a lot of my guys drill spring barley in first at 35kg/acre (not more) and then drill the grass on top. Nitrogen and weed control, mow off in July, grass grows like stink afterward- the barley acts as a nurse crop.
    Feck! That's a hundred and fifty years of doing it wrong!

  12. #12

    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    This is a great thread. Seems as though I was doing the wrong thing too. The oats, peas and vetch; under sown was which I thought was a raving success, now it seems was a failure.

    You learn something new everyday. Can't wait to tell our adviser.

    So I don't want to be fannying around with our witch craft arable mix; but go belts and braces wheat whole crop?

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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    Quote Originally Posted by Treemover View Post
    This is a great thread. Seems as though I was doing the wrong thing too. The oats, peas and vetch; under sown was which I thought was a raving success, now it seems was a failure.

    You learn something new everyday. Can't wait to tell our adviser.

    So I don't want to be fannying around with our witch craft arable mix; but go belts and braces wheat whole crop?
    You carry on drilling whatever fancy mix you like. My lot stick with wholecrop wheat. We are using it as a reseeding tool.

    Bear in mind we now have no dursban. This means reseeding grass: grass is going to become extremely hazardous.


    I have in my phone a picture of someone's wholecrop wheat silage analysis. The starch content is a shade under 40%. There will be maize crops this year that don't achieve that.

    This is how we do it.

    1. We choose the most knackered grass leys on the farm.

    2. Soil sample.

    3. Spray off. Dispose of any and all manure or slurry as required.

    4. Plough

    5. Add any required lime/P & K (remember two things- you are correcting this ground for the grass AFTER the wheat as well, also the wheat needs everything to be spot on if it is survive the winter and yield properly).

    6. Drill. In my area we typically drill in the second or third week of September. After this it becomes too wet to do anything. We have done it later before, but I need the wheat to get established in time for the winter. You MUST use Deter dressed seed (the risk of BYDV after grass is V high).

    7. Roll if required.

    8. Apply pre-emergence herbicide. PM for details. Generally I do not go mad on livestock farms as we don't have blackgrass and it is so wet that there is no point. You may choose to apply the same stuff very very early post em and combine with an aphicide (BYDV).

    9. Watch for slugs/pellet.

    10. Wait until March when you can finally travel the field again.

    11. Also in March decide how clean it is. Meadow grass etc? Atlantis. If not, wait until April.

    12. Apply 30-50 units according to crop condition. Maybe nothing.

    13. Mid April, walk crop, apply fungicide, PGR and any broad leaved weed herbicide (this is where you smash you docks and whatever else to pieces).

    14. Decide how much N to apply. Sometimes nothing- where lots of dung has been applied be VERY cautious about chucking on N at this stage. If the crop is creeping up to the tops of your wellies, as some of mine is right now, forget it.

    15. Mid May. Flag leaf fungicide. Last chance to wipe out any board leaved weeds.

    16. Second week July, chop with forager. If you manage to beat my 18 tonne/acre fresh weight record please take pictures and email me them.

    17. August/September according to weather. Apply slurry or dung, till gently- 1-2 inches deep only.

    18. Harrow in grass seed. Roll.

    19. Check for slugs.

    20. Spray emerged new ley where docks/chickweed etc have emerged.

    21. Profit.












    screen capture freeware

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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    Note the crop above had a mere 50 units of N. You can see how clean the stubble was.

    If you decide to drill a oats/vetch/whatever mixture, how on earth do you begin to control weeds in it? How are you cleaning up the ground? How do you reduce your weed grass burden?

    You can't.

  15. #15

    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    Were organic, so doubly screwed. We found that growing wheat was a no no, hence our oats. I would like to try a small bit of wheat mixed in, but hear both great and bad things about that.

    The peas and vetch help great with nitrogen and suppressing weeds. But its a careful balance as can shade out the grass. But I often thought of sowing half grass undersown, and other half after cutting??

    Impressive photos btw.

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    Senior Member Wee Dram's Avatar
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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    A great looking crop right enough but if my counting is right you have been through that 8 times with a sprayer how much would that cost to apply using a spraying contractor? It is certainly looking weed free but after Roundup, Pre Em, Atlantis and another two herbicides any weeds left and you should be down the road with a boot up your arse. If you can grow a crop that good would you not be better taking it through to combine surely it would only need another ear wash spray.

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    Senior Member Recycled's Avatar
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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    Quote Originally Posted by Wee Dram View Post
    A great looking crop right enough but if my counting is right you have been through that 8 times with a sprayer how much would that cost to apply using a spraying contractor? It is certainly looking weed free but after Roundup, Pre Em, Atlantis and another two herbicides any weeds left and you should be down the road with a boot up your arse. If you can grow a crop that good would you not be better taking it through to combine surely it would only need another ear wash spray.
    Youll have some cracking deep ruts through your new lay to bounce over wi your tractor

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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    Quote Originally Posted by Wee Dram View Post
    A great looking crop right enough but if my counting is right you have been through that 8 times with a sprayer how much would that cost to apply using a spraying contractor? It is certainly looking weed free but after Roundup, Pre Em, Atlantis and another two herbicides any weeds left and you should be down the road with a boot up your arse. If you can grow a crop that good would you not be better taking it through to combine surely it would only need another ear wash spray.
    I don't know about 8 times. 4 times typically for wheat in our region. Autumn- T0, T1 and T2.
    In reality where something has been put on in the autumn you aren't going to get much in the way of weeds anyway. And in this area you can't always get a T0 on anyway due to the wet. Where pre-em is used many times Atlantis is not required, maybe a sniff of Ally later for the docks or buttercup, although it would of course depend on what the farmer wants to do.

    What good would it be taking it to the combine? A lot of dairy farmers don't have anywhere to store dry grain and don't want the embuggerance of drying or crimping, and very few of them are using serious amounts of straw any longer either.

    They are more interested in growing a lot of quality forage. This is what puts litres in the tank for reasonable money. Everything else costs far more.

    I am not keen to be applying T3 to wholecrops either due to the harvest interval involved, and with feed wheat the way it is very few people I know of put a T3 on last season and it will be even fewer this year.

    Whether the new leys need to be sprayed or not varies. Again, its the farmers choice.

    As for the costs of spraying, drilling, contractors, tilling, seed etc etc etc, if you only examine it from that point of view you would never do anything.

    If you really want to crap your pants consider the added costs of any lime or P & K that might be required.

    Getting ruts in your new ley- if its that wet you wouldn't do it.

    The beauty of this system is that you can establish a cracking new ley in clean stubble in August-September with only light cultivations, and you've eliminated the perennial or problem weeds in the previous crop.

    Many people often do the same thing with maize. It's work and cost, but I don't know anyone around here about to run out of grub and they are all the ones with the grass over the tops of your wellies, everywhere else there isn't a stitch of grass anywhere.

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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    That is great if you're not HLS low input cereal followed by overwintered stubble!!

    Personally I just usually round up with whatever is cheapest, sow triticale & shut the gate on it. Still getting 14ish T freshweight though sure you will point out starch is lower than wheat. But if it works for me then I'm happy with it & I get the money to cover quite a bit of the costs of sowing.

    2yr ley then 2yr trit & back again. Solves the dursban issue without even thinking about it. So win win as far as I'm concerned.

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    Re: Wholecrop Silage

    I have several customers who very successfully undersow spring barley with grass. Quite often done into a spring barley/pea wholecrop.
    The cost or establishing two crops is greatly reduced and the effect on the grass ley to follow is negligible.

    Of course as soon as the wholecrop is cut the grass can begin to grow to its full potential - cutting a grass silage crop within 6 weeks is common.

    Highly recommend it.

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