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Mixtures of Fall Rye, Sweet Clover and Proso Millet for Grazing

Updated: May 10

Research Coordinator: Dr. Akim Omokanye

Collaborating producer: John Prinse (MD of Big Lakes)

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2014 Annual Report

Cereals can provide high energy feed for livestock within a short period of time. They can be harvested at the milk to soft dough stage for stored feed, or they can be swathed and left for late season swath grazing. Millets, though a warm season annual cereal crop, are a good option for harvested green feed and for swath grazing. Also, winter cereals are an option for producers wishing to graze the stand during the summer and late into the fall period; fall rye can be used for this option. Spring seeding a spring and winter cereal together is a good option for providing a season long forage option. We can harvest the spring cereal as silage and use the winter cereal below for mid to late season grazing. Intercropping maximizes the number of plants per acre and nutrient. In this study, we used a winter cereal (fall rye) in mixtures with crown millet (red proso millet) and sweet clover to improve forage yield and quality. If planting sweet clover as livestock feed, use low coumarin varieties. Coumarin is a substance present in varying amounts in all sweet clover species. Two varieties of sweet clover, Norgold yellow sweet clover and Polara white sweet clover have very low coumarin content and do not pose a problem when feeding livestock. By including fall rye in the mixtures, we also want-ed to see how much fall rye would be available for late fall or early spring grazing following a late summer grazing.


The study took place at John Prinse’s farm at Enilda, near High Prairie, MD of Big Lakes. The site had been used for swath grazing for a few years prior to the present study. Demonstration strip design was used on a 12.6-acre piece of land. Spring soil sample taken from 0-6 inches soil depth and analyzed by Exova laboratory in Edmonton showed 13.9% OM and a pH of 6.6. The soil had marginal N, optimum P & S, and excess K required for crop growth. The soil was not tilled before seeding.

We used 2 cereals (fall rye (FR) and red proso millet (M) and a forage legume (sweet clover (SC)) for this trial. Proso millet is a variety of crown millet. The crop treatments consisted of the following:

Treatment 1 - Crown millet (15 lb/ac) + fall rye (0.5 bus/ac) + yellow blossom sweet clover (3 lbs/acre);

Treatment 2 - Crown millet (15 lb/ac) + fall rye (1.5 bus/ac) + yellow blossom sweet clover (3 lbs/acre) and

Treatment 3 - Monoculture crown millet @ 20 lbs/acre

Seeding was done on June 15 with a John Deere 752 no till disk drill with 24 rows @ 7.5” row spacing. The seed drill had multiple boxes for seeds and fertilizers. We put fall rye in one box, mixed millet + sweet clover seeds in another box and the fertilizer blend in the fertilizer box. We applied 80 lbs/acre blend of 46-0-0 (50 lbs/acre ) + 11-52-0 (30 lbs/acre) at seeding. Sweet clover was treated with Nitragin Gold pre-inoculant before seeding. Spraying for pre-emergence weed control on June 17 with 0.6 L Roundup® + 0.6 MCPA® to control horsetail and other weeds.