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Agronomy Journal Abstract - Organic Agriculture & Agroecology

Winter Grain–Short Season Corn Double Crop Forage Production for New England


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 104 No. 2, p. 256-264
    Received: Aug 26, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): jemison@maine.edu
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  1. John M. Jemison Jr *a,
  2. Heather M. Darbyb and
  3. S. Chris Reberg-Hortonc
  1. a Univ. of Maine Cooperative Extension, 495 College Ave., Orono, ME 04473
    b 278 S. Main St.- Suite 2, St. Albans, VT 05478-1866
    c S.C. Reberg-Horton, Plant Science Dep., North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC 27695-7620


Alternative organic forage systems that provide high quality feed and low weed pressure are required to improve farm viability. Five site-year locations of research were conducted in Stillwater, ME and Alburgh, VT to evaluate winter grain–short season corn (WGSSC) double crops compared to full season corn (FSC) (Zea mays L.) for dry matter yield (DMY), weed biomass, and forage quality. Small grains evaluated in the study included winter barley (WB) (Hordeum vulgare L.), triticale (TC) (X Triticosecale), and winter wheat (WW) (Triticum aestivum L.). Low degree-day open-pollinated and hybrid corns were planted following cereal boot or soft dough stage harvest and were evaluated relative to FSC. A moderately winterkilled WB stand reduced DMY by 33 to 50% relative to TC and WW, and WB was weakly competitive against weeds. In most measures, WB forage quality was significantly higher than TC or WW. Delaying harvest to soft dough stage nearly doubled small grain DMY and forage quality yield for most measures. Corn planted after boot stage grain harvest produced 1700 kg ha−1 greater DMY than later planted corn, but weed biomass was not significantly affected by planting date. Forage quality and forage quality yield were approximately 15% greater for corn planted after boot stage harvest. Dense TC and WW stands reduced weed biomass by 300% relative to WB-corn double crop. Highest forage quality/yield was found with soft-dough stage WB–corn double crop. Double crop forage systems can reduce environmental risk and lower organic dairy production costs, and provide high yielding, high quality feed.

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