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Summer Sown Forage Crops

15 July 2021

There are numerous forage crops that have a short growing period, that are ideal to sow following silage or early harvest, offering additional forage and nutrition for livestock in to the autumn and early winter. The crops available are shown in the below table.

CropSowingTime to Utilise
Stubble turnipsMay - September60 - 90 days
Forage rapeMay - August90 - 120 days
Hybrid brassicasApril - August90 - 120 days

Stubble turnips are a quick growing crop. The leaves hold the protein (17-18%) and the bulbs hold the energy (11MJ/kgDM). The bulbs can grow quite large and sit out the ground, making them easy to utilise for livestock. There are numerous varieties now on the market including clubroot resistant, green bulbs, purple bulbs, high dry matter, more leaf or more bulb.

Establishment costs for stubble turnips are in the region of ~£320/ha (£130/ha).

Forage rape and hybrids are a fast growing high protein feed (19-20%) with a good level of energy (10-11MJ/kg). Hybrids are made up of a mixture of kale and rape and offer a leafy high quality forage. There are numerous varieties available on the market, with varying winter hardiness and some have an ability to regrow if sown earlier in the season.

Establishment costs for forage rape and hybrids are in the region of ~£270/ha (£109/ha).

When choosing the forage crop to sow and suit your system, think about when you wish to graze the crop, the nutritional demands of the stock class that will graze it and determine if you require a bulky or leafy crop. Other key considerations include:

  • Site choice – environmental considerations, access, water, etc.
  • Seedbed – sow, direct drill or spin
  • Soil nutrition (N,P,K) – fertiliser requirements can be found here

Kirsten Williams, 

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