Back Summer forage crop options for late sowing

Date: 25 October 2016

A key limitation to establishing a crop leading into summer is the potential lack of moisture within the seed zone, combined with hot temperatures at the soil surface. This is particularly a challenge for shallow planted, small seed crops such as brassicas or herbs. Often, this results in nil, poor or delayed germination, and low vigour in young plants experiencing moisture and heat stress. The resulting summer crops are prone to weed pressure and low yield outcomes.

Once soil temperatures rise and moisture levels drop, consider sowing options like forage sorghum, sudan grass or greenfeed or silage maize. These can be sown deeper into soil moisture, and as they are C4 plants, they are more drought tolerant and better adapted for rapid growth in summer temperatures.

  • Bettagraze – a multi-graze sorghum x sudan grass hybrid suitable for warmer regions. Requires soil temperature of at least 17⁰C for germination. Rapid early growth enhancing establishment in drying conditions, and drought tolerant once established. Ready for grazing or harvest once it reaches 0.8m which can be as soon as 35-45 days after planting. Can be drilled into soil moisture at 3-5cm depth.
  • Super Sweet Sudan (SSS) – a new sudan x sudan cross hybrid which produces high yields of palatable summer feed. SSS has super fine stems and a prolific tillering habit. Plant at 2.5-3.5cm once soil temperatures are above 17ºC,
  • Forage King greenfeed maize –hybrid maize seed blend, suitable for cattle grazing through summer and early autumn. Rapid growth in summer conditions. Can be drilled into soil moisture at 3-5cm depth or deeper if necessary according to soil moisture and texture.
  • Pioneer® brand maize silage. Maize silage crops can be successfully established through till early December in most North Island areas. Advances in maize breeding means shorter maturity hybrids can still deliver excellent yields of high quality maize silage.

If you are sowing crops into dry soil conditions ensure you plant into the moisture zone. Maize planters should be set up to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. A light rolling after planting may be necessary for forage sorghum and sudan crops.

For more information, contact your local Pioneer representative.