Grow wholecrop this Spring.

18th March 2021

Wholecrop produced from cereals are an excellent alternative forage which have excellent nutritional benefits for livestock or anaerobic digestion plants, while also being cost effective to grow.

Fane Valley Agronomy and Forage carry a wide range of crops through the Morton’s brand which are suitable for wholecrop silage. Cereal species and variety can have an equally important bearing with yield, disease resistance, protein content and place in rotation all being factors which will have an effect on both the quality and yield of the final forage.

Cereal wholecrop silage such as barley or wheat is a mix of starch and fibre which is a good source of energy for bugs in the rumen. There is however relatively low levels of protein in straight cereal silage crops and additional protein supplementation may be needed. One method of overcoming this is to sow a bi-crop of cereals and legumes such as barley and peas, which will improve the protein content of the silage and have the added benefit of having a lower nitrogen requirement due to the legumes fixing nitrogen. 

The table below shows the typical nitrogen requirements, yield and energy yield of different forage crops. As you can see wholecrop cereals are very efficient at using nitrogen.

Any cereal crop can be used to make wholecrop but due to the different characteristics of each crop they have different strengths and weaknesses. For spring sowing wheat and barley can be used but would tend to have higher input costs whereas rye and triticale will have lower costs. There is also the option of using a bi-crop such as the Morton’s Silvertstone mix which contains barley and peas or Monaco which contains triticale and lupins. 

For high quality wholecrop silage it is important to give the crop the best chance for success and giving the crop the best nutrition and crop health programme to give a good grain yield. 

For more advice on growing wholecrop silage contact your local Fane Valley Agronomy and Forage technical specialist or call 028 9261 0485.