Planting winter triticale for fall grazing in Kansas

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Triticale, a cross of wheat and rye, and has been used mainly as a forage crop in Kansas. Triticale also can be used for erosion control and a manure nutrient management tool, since it can scavenge a high amount of phosphorus in heavily manured fields. Since winter triticale can overwinter, fall-planted triticale can be grazed this fall and/or next spring to fill the feed gap for beef, dairy, and sheep. Otherwise, winter triticale can be ensiled by chopping, or round bale/square bale wrapped ensiling next spring. Following are the management tips for winter triticale including grazing:

Planting depth: Triticale can be planted conventionally or no-tilled 1 to 2 inches deep. Having a firm seedbed is important to have better seed-soil contact for good germination.

Planting date: Since triticale has similar traits to wheat, planting dates are similar to wheat. However, if winter triticale is being grazed in fall through early winter, winter triticale should be planted about a month earlier than wheat. The recommended planting dates  for Kansas are:

  • Northwest: August 20 to September 15
  • Southwest to north central: August 20 to September 25
  • South central to east central: September 1 to 25
  • Southeast: September 1 to October 1.

Planting rate: Seeding rate for winter triticale is similar to wheat for grazing planting rates in Kansas. Seeding rates for western Kansas should be no more than 50 percent above the normal wheat seeding rate and 90 -120 pounds per acre for irrigated areas. In central Kansas, use 75-120 pounds per acre. In eastern Kansas, use 90-120 pounds per acre. Because high seeding rates can cause moisture stress, it is necessary to monitor soil moisture carefully to determine when the top growth should be removed.

Weed management: Because triticale and wheat are related, several herbicides are labeled for both.  For many winter weeds, fall applications will often offer better control than spring applications as long as weeds are emerged. The primary types of winter annual broadleaf weeds of concern in Kansas are henbit and mustard species. Henbit and mustard species are effectively controlled with many herbicides labeled for triticale including Affinity, Ally XP, Finesse Cereal&Fallow, Glean XP, Harmony SG, Peak, Huskie, and Powerflex HL. Powerflex HL should be used if grassy weed species like downy brome, cheat, and Japanese brome are a concern.

Some populations of ALS-resistant mustard exist in Kansas. For those populations, producers can tank-mix with 2,4-D with spring applications, but should not use 2,4-D in the fall or until triticale is fully tillered in the spring. Using 2,4-D alone can provide good mustard control if applied before mustards start to bolt in the spring, but is generally poor at controlling henbit. Kochia could be a problem in the spring with late-planted or thin stands of triticale. Dicamba can provide good control of kochia, but does not provide good control of mustards. Dicamba needs to be applied before triticale starts to joint to avoid crop injury.

Grazing restrictions will be critical when deciding which herbicides will fit your grazing program. Herbicides labeled for triticale and their respective grazing restrictions are given in Table 1. Read and follow all label directions when using any pesticide.

Table 1. Triticale herbicides and waiting interval required between application and grazing

for beef and non-lactating animals


Waiting interval required between application and grazing (days)



Ally XP



0 to 14 (varies by product)



Finesse Cereal&Fallow


Glean XP


Harmony SG






Powerflex HL



Fertilizer: For optimal fall growth, band-apply 20 lbs of nitrogen per acre at seeding and fertilize P and K according to the soil test results. N rate would need to be adjusted for livestock gain. K-State has N recommendations for wheat grazing, and triticale would be similar. Consider split applying N with half in fall (grazing) and half in spring for grazing/silage production.

For both triticale and wheat, a general recommendation is to increase nitrogen rates by 30–50 pounds/acre over normal rates for grain production if the crops will be used for grazing. For more specific recommendations, this formula can be used: (animals/acre) x expected pounds of weight gain x 0.4 = amount of nitrogen/acre to add. Split applications are best suited for grazing situations because producers can adjust N-rates to forage removal and environmental conditions. If conditions are favorable for heavy fall and/or spring grazing, additional N maybe necessary.

Grazing: Winter triticale can be grazed when triticale starts to tiller, or about four to six weeks after emergence of the crop, depending on rainfall and temperature. To test if winter triticale is ready for grazing, hold the plants between the thumb and forefinger, pull, and twist, which mimics grazing behavior. If winter triticale plants stay strong enough in the ground, then the triticale crop is ready to graze. Be careful about grazing and feeding hay with awns. Awns will cause lump jaw in cattle.

Doo-Hong Min, Southwest Area Crops and Soils Specialist

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

Doug Shoup, Southeast Area Crops and Soils Specialist

Dallas Peterson, Weed Management Specialist