Cover crops grown post-wheat for forage under dryland conditions in the High Plains

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A new publication has been produced in collaboration with extension specialists and research scientists at K-State and Colorado State University. This publication, MF3523 – “Cover crops grown post-wheat for forage under dryland conditions in the High Plains”, presents information on species selection, variability in forage production, and challenges associated with grazing. Additionally, readers can find recommendations for grazing management, determining stocking rates, and controlling wheat streak mosaic virus


Post-wheat planted cover crops may offer a longer and more flexible grazing period than spring-planted cover crops within wheat-based dryland cropping systems. However, low available soil moisture and variable weather patterns this time of year can make cover crop establishment and productivity highly variable. Concerns about disrupting good wheat stubble, managing volunteer wheat to reduce disease transmission, and controlling weeds should be considered.

When cover crops are grazed, producers should choose species that will not only benefit soil health but will also be palatable and safe as forage for livestock. Fortunately, many of the species recommended for use as cover crops are also good for forage production. Factors such as nutritive content and potential toxicities must be considered.

Useful information and recommendations on cover crop species selection, managing variable forage production, grazing management options, determining optimal stocking rates, and a planting/grazing timeline is covered in detail in the publication. There are also links to other useful and related online resources within the publication. The entire publication can be viewed and downloaded at



Sandy Johnson, Extension Beef Specialist, Northwest Research-Extension Center

Augustine Obour, K-State Agricultural Research Center, Hays

John Holman, Cropping Systems Agronomist, Southwest Research-Extension Center

Joe Brummer, Extension Forage Specialist, Colorado State University

Angie Moore, Research Associate, Colorado State University

Meagan Schipanski, Cropping Systems, Colorado State University

Tags:  grazing fall forage cover crops dryland