Cover crops can be a valuable forage for fall and winter grazing programs, and producers who raise both cattle and row crops might want to consider implementing one or more types of cover crops into their planting schedules.

Some commonly planted cover crops around the Ozarks for fall and winter grazing include cereal rye, triticale, brassicas, winter wheat and winter barley. Jill Scheidt, agronomy field specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, explained rye, triticale and barley can be planted from Sept. 1 through 15, and wheat approximately mid-October, after producers harvest row crops like corn and soybeans, In the case of brassicas (turnips, radishes, kale and canola), planting can be done mid-August by inter-seeding them into existing row crops.

“Ensure good seed to soil contact no matter what the planting mechanism – no-till drilling, aerial seeding or broadcasting,” Scheidt advised. “Add 30 to 50 units of nitrogen and follow soil test recommendations for phosphorus and potassium.”

Successful germination of cover crops is also one of the best forms of weed control, Scheidt explained. 

“In the fall, there are less weeds to compete with than the spring, so a good, healthy stand should be able to shade out most weeds,” she explained. “Plant the right rate at the right time and depth to give seeds the competitive advantage.” 

She also advised producers to research the MU seeding guide for additional information on proper planting at

A managed grazing program will help a producer utilize their cover crops in the most efficient manner. Scheidt suggested implementing a strip grazing system for livestock to get the most out of the crops.

Not only can cover crops offer good fall and winter grazing, they also have the added benefit of keeping the land from going fallow and promoting good soil health. Visiting with neighbors who are utilizing cover crops, as well as with extension specialists and Natural Resource Conservation Service employees can help producers make a good choice of which cover crops to plant for grazing.


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