Texas A&M agronomist highlights wheat silage

Although wheat is most commonly associated with summertime harvests and grain trucks rattling along a gravel road to the local cooperative elevator, wheat silage or wheatlage, as it is sometimes known, is becoming a more popular option for cattle and dairy producers. Jourdan Bell, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agronomist, spoke about wheat silage at High Plains Journal’s Sorghum U/Wheat U virtual event.

As a regional agronomist, her research and extension activities focus on the primary crops grown in the Texas High Plains including corn, sorghum, cotton, and wheat.

Bell grew up in an agricultural family, which gave her an appreciation for agricultural production on the southern Great Plains and a desire to pursue a career in agriculture. She followed the path of soil science because soils are the foundation of agriculture.

“As an agronomist, I have enjoyed applying my knowledge of soil science in my research and extension programs,” she said. “Wheat has been an important part of my research and Extension activities. Not only is wheat for grain an important rotational crop in Texas High Plains irrigated and dryland cropping systems, but wheat is an important forage source for regional livestock production including grazing, hay and silage.”

With current commodity prices and the excess supply of wheat right now, more wheat producers are choosing to detour from the traditional harvest of wheat and opt to use it for forage instead.

“As the Ogallala Aquifer in the southern Great Plans has declined and dairy herds have expanded, wheat silage or wheatlage has become increasingly important,” Bell explained. “Wheatlage helps fill the silage gap. Our research has focus on varieties and harvest timing. Harvest timing is important for both the farmer and the livestock operator because they are considering either quantity or quality.”

Bell’s presentation delved on the properties of wheat silage and how farmers can diversify their wheat operations and cattle producers can provide a nutritional forage substitute to livestock.

“I hope producers will be able to use our data as they consider potential contracts for wheatlage and how they negotiate the price,” Bell said.

The virtual Sorghum U/Wheat U event was Aug. 11 to 12. To learn more about the program visit hpj.com/suwu.

Lacey Newlin can be reached at 620-227-1871 or [email protected].