Cultural Practices For Triticale In The Southern Great Plains.
Being a cross between wheat and rye, triticale can be handled almost the same as these crops with good results. However, there are some differences that top managers should be aware of to maximize forage production.
1. There are good, excellent, and inappropriate varieties of triticale. Buy from a company that will stand behind their product. Watley’s SlickTrit is proven to be superior for hay and silage production.
2. Fertilizer — Triticale uses nutrients in approximately the same ratio as wheat. It is at least as efficient as wheat, but is more sensitive to fertilizer imbalance. Soil testing is a good idea. Since triticale produces more forage than wheat, higher rates are recommended. Generally, it is economical to use 25% more fertilizer than for wheat. Split applications of Nitrogen are recommended. As a silage, triticale uses 11 lb. of N. per ton of yield.
3. Grazing — In the Fall, do not let the triticale get too lush before starting the grazing. Measure the leaves, and start grazing when they are 12 inches long, and before they reach 18 inches. Using a rotational grazing system will increase the amount of beef per acre by about 20%. In the Spring, let the triticale get lush, but not jointed, before adding extra cattle. This will increase the total beef gain, and decrease any danger of grass tetany. Generally, use a 20% higher stocking rate than with wheat. Triticale should graze three weeks longer than wheat.
4. Forage triticales usually do not produce high grain yields. Triticale hay or silage will return more cash dollars than cutting it for seed. Most triticale varieties are protected under the Plant Variety Protection Act. Watley Seeds enforces their PVP rights.
5. Handle your cattle mineral program just like you would for wheat.
6. Planting rates and dates — Handle like wheat on land preparation and seeding depth. Plant the same pounds of seed per acre as wheat, but because triticale has a bigger seed than wheat, open the drill 15% wider to get the same seeding rate. It is best to plant two weeks earlier than wheat, and you can start as early as August 10. On Intermediate varieties (Spring X Winter crosses), delay planting until after Sept.20 to minimize the chance of winter kill. Planting in moist soil is better than planting dry and then irrigating. When Fall grazing is not important, triticale can be planted until the soil temperature falls to 42 degrees, which usually occurs when the first Blue-Norther arrives in December. Triticale does not have any disease or insect problems yet that need any attention.
7. For hay, be sure to cut in the early boot stage for best quality. This makes an excellent hay for arriving stocker calves.
For silage, use a preservative and pack well.
The quality of triticale is determined by maturity. Protein will normally be about 20% at the appearance of the flag leaf, and falls to about 10% when it is in the soft dough.
Flag leaf cut triticale will produce approx. 65% of the tonnage of soft-dough harvest, but it should recover to produce a second cutting, if it is cut over 4 inches high. Yields in the 20 ton range are common for irrigated triticale cut in the soft dough stage, but the amount of milk per acre is about the same as if it had been cut at the flag leaf. Immature triticale is highly digestible.
8. Blends of Winter and Intermediate triticales are best for graze-out programs. Watley Seed can custom blend these lines to suit your situation.