Grazing Wheat

Rumulo) Good morning, my name is Rumulo Lollato and I am the Wheat and Forages Extension Specialist with Kansas State University. And today we’re going to talk about grazing wheat pastures and what you should consider when managing your grazing, your wheat pasture. So the first thing that we need to be careful as long as you have your wheat planted early and at a higher seeding rate to make sure that you have good forage production, the first thing we need to be careful is not to graze too early. So what is that threshold for us to start grazing, to release the cattle and start grazing our wheat pastures? Well, it is very important that the wheat crop has a good ground root development, right? So, it has a good anchorage into soil and whenever a cow is grazing they’re not pulling the wheat plants out of the soil. Instead, they’re just removing the forage. And that’s what we want. If cattle remove the whole plant out of the soil, then we are not going to have any yield out of that plant and we’re really hurting our wheat yields. So, generally a good crown root development occurs when the wheat plant is about six to eight inches tall. So, whenever your wheat crop is about six to eight inches tall and it is very easy for you to determine whether the anchorage is good or not. You can dig a few wheat pants out of the field and make sure that there is a good crown root development, as you can see on this image. So, you went to the field and you scouted your field for a good crown root development and good wheat anchorage to the soil before releasing your cattle. What now? How do you manage your grazing density so you’re not hurting your wheat fields. A good pattern that we had and it’s one thing that we need to keep in mind is our green cover whenever you look at your soil downwards and you have a percent green cover and a percent soil cover or straw cover, right? We need to shoot to maintain a minimum of about 60 percent green cover late December and throughout grazing and especially at grazing termination, we need a minimal of about 60 percent ground cover for us to insure we are maintaining our maximum yields. So relative to an ungrazed wheat crop. OK, how do I estimate this percent coverage? Can I just look? Well that’s really not accurate, right? So, what we are going to do is talk about a smart phone application that you can use and that’s really easy to go to the field and determine your percent cover at that point in time. So this is an application called Canopeo. It was developed at Oklahoma State University. So our university down south here from us. And it is a very handy tool. Should I talk about Oklahoma State? OK, and it is a very handy tool because you can just download on your smart phone and you go to the field, take a number of pictures that are of your field. And I would really recommend taking several pictures across the pasture while grazing is occurring and you’re getting closer to that grazing termination. And it’s really simple. We just take the picture, slide it forward, it’s going to measure your percent green canopy cover. And you should have a threshold about 60 percent canopy cover. Because below 60 percent canopy cover that’s when we start to hurt our yields. So, that’s one easy way to manage your grazing density with the aid of a smart phone application. Also in grazing with pastures, it’s very important to keep in mind not to graze past what we call first hollow stem. What is first hollow stem? First hollow stem is when the wheat growing point emerges out of the ground and starts going up the shoot and whenever that growing point is about half an inch, whenever that first hollow stem has about half an inch of growth, that’s our threshold. So, if we are past first hollow stem, then we need to stop grazing, otherwise we will also hurt our yields. For more information on first hollow stem, we have a first hollow stem plots down in Barber County and also in Hutchinson that we would be sending this information to you for different varieties based on those locations. When is the best grazing termination time? So, please follow us on Twitter. We will be sending that information and you can see that at ksuwheat on Twitter. Also, use the Agronomy eUpdates. So we will be sending that information through the eUpdates as well, depending on which variety you are planting and which region of the state, how far along are these varieties regarding first hollow stem.

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