Forage Quality and Yield of Wheat-Vetch at Different Stages of Maturity and Vetch Seeding Rates
- C. A. Roberts ,
- K. J. Moore and
- K. D. Johnson
Recent studies have shown that wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) grown in association with hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) has a greater forage quality potential than wheat grown alone. The objective of this study was to evaluate the forage quality of wheat-vetch with four vetch seeding rates at different stages of maturity. In the fall of 1983 and 1984, field plots were established at the University of Illinois South Farm at Urbana, IL. Wheat was planted alone at a rate of 324 pure live seeds (PLS) per square meter, or in combination with hairy vetch at rates of 0, 54, 108, or 162 PLS/m2 in a Flanagan silt loam (fine, montmorillonitic, mesic Aquic Argiudoll) soil. The forage was harvested when wheat was in the boot, anthesis, and milk stages of maturity. Mixed samples and individual fractions were analyzed using standard forage quality procedures. The vetch proportion was 18.4 and 9.9% in 1984 and 1985, respectively. Dry matter yield decreased with increasing vetch seeding rate and increased (P < 0.05) as the season progressed. Crude protein increased (P < 0.05) an average of 46.8 and 22.9% in 1984 and 1985, respectively, as vetch seeding rate increased from 0 to 162 PLS/m2; crude protein was primarily contributed by the vetch fraction, which contained twice as much protein as did wheat in both years. Digestibility (P < 0.05) increased an average of 12 and 1% as vetch seeding rate increased from 0 to 162 PLS/m2 in 1984 and 1985, respectively. Total cell wall concentration was not affected (P > 0.05) by vetch seeding rate. We conclude that the forage quality of wheat-vetch sown with a vetch seeding rate of 162 PLS/m2 was higher than that of wheat-vetch with lower vetch seeding rates.
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