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Seeds in Season | October 2023

The Best Crops to Plant This Fall For Spring Forage

contributed article by Justin Fruechte, Product Expert - Ag

Millborn Seeds, Brookings, S.D.

Fall planting time is here! This season can be short-lived and a bit more inconsistent from a moisture standpoint when compared to spring, but when planting conditions are good – you need to jump on the opportunity to take advantage of early spring moisture and move your harvest ahead the following summer.

The forage world has taken note of the benefits of fall planting and placed an emphasis on improving winter annuals to thrive in these conditions. As producers, we have more high-quality options than ever to select from.

Triticale Improvements

Triticale is one of the crops that has seen vast improvements over the last decade. It was originally developed by crossing cereal rye with durum wheat – a cross that made it great for drought tolerance and winter hardiness. Personally, my favorite attribute of the crop is the fantastic quality.

Research and development placed an emphasis on increasing leaf to stem ratio, giving the plant higher digestibility as a feed and better standability for harvest ease. Also, many of the varieties are now completely awn-less, so you don’t need to worry about lump jaw or abscesses when feeding, like you do with rye or wheat.

Because triticale is such an innovative crop, we sat down for a conversation with Racey Padilla, small grains research director and triticale breeder for TriCal Superior Forage on the Millborn Seeds’ Roots & Ruminants podcast. TriCal Superior Forage has the largest triticale breeding program in North America, and Padilla’s farmer-first perspective fuels his breeding efforts. He’s always trying to improve the stress tolerance and feed quality of the crop.

Winter Wheat Benefits

The other winter annual that has gained momentum in the Western Plains is forage winter wheat. This plant is a true winter wheat, so if you also grow wheat for grain, it’s a great option to alleviate volunteer issues that could come from other winter annuals.

Montana State University has focused on improving forage winter wheat and most recently released MTF 1435, a very tall, awn-less variety that boasts high grain yields. This summer’s reports of harvested fields were outstanding. They were seeing yields at 3-to-4-ton DM/acre and crude protein levels nearing 12 percent.

Generally, fall planted forages will be ready to harvest two to three weeks sooner than a spring planted forage. You’re fast-tracking your farm’s summer forage plan next spring by planting these quality winter annual options now, and it allows the ideal time to double crop with a warm season annual forage. Utilizing winter annual species that are higher yielding and higher quality, like triticale and forage winter wheat, will return a higher value to your livestock operation.

For more information head to and click on the Roots & Ruminants podcast to hear Racey Padilla talk through the history and improvements that have been made to triticale over the years.

Photos courtesy Millborn Seeds

Millborn Seeds, Brookings, S.D.

The team of folks at Millborn Seeds have roots that run deep in farming, agriculture, and in the overall respect for the landscape. They opened their doors in 1987 and continue to walk alongside farmers, ranchers, and landowners across thousands of acres throughout the Midwest.

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