Research Coordinator: Dr. Akim Omokanye
Location: Fairview Research Farm
From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2020 Annual Report
Triticale is a small-grain cereal developed to combine the quality and uniformity attributes of wheat with the vigour and hardiness of rye. The primary advantage of triticale is that it has the ability to perform well on marginal lands and it is drought tolerant. Under dryland conditions, spring triticales are a valuable alternative to feed barley and oats. Earlier studies by PCBFA showed that soft white wheat has some great forage potential. Both triticale and soft white wheat are becoming attractive options for beef cattle producers. As part of the Regional Silage Variety Trials (RSVTs), several varieties of both triticale and soft white wheat are always being tested for forage yield and quality in Fairview.
Objective: To identify triticale and soft white wheat varieties with superior forage yield and feed quality for beef cattle production.
Experimental Site: Fairview Research Farm (NW-5-82-3-W6M) on RR #35, MD of Fairview.
Site soil information from the surface soil (0-6” soil depth) before seeding: pH = 6.2, organic matter = 4.7% and electrical conductivity = 0.21 (dS/m).
Cropping history: Before the fall of 2018, when the site was sprayed out with Roundup at 1.0 L/acre and tilled, the previous crop was alfalfa for hay production for over 15 years.
Experimental design and treatments: A randomized complete block design was used.
Thirteen crops consisting of 7 spring triticale and 6 spring wheat varieties (5 soft white wheat and a general purpose wheat) were tested in 4 replications in small plots measuring 8 m x 1.8 m. The 13 varieties tested are listed below:
1. AAC Delight triticale
2. Sunray triticale
3. Circuit triticale
4. Bunker triticale
5. Pronghorn triticale
6. Taza triticale
7. T256 triticale
8. AC Sadash soft white wheat
9. AAC Paramount soft white wheat
10. AC Andrew soft white wheat
11. AAC Awesome soft white wheat
12. AAC Indus VB soft white wheat
13. KWS Alderon general purpose wheat
Seeds were treated with Vibrance Quattro cereal seed treatment before seeding.
Seeding Rate: 370 plants/m2 (34.3 plants/ft2).
Seeding Date: May 28.
Seeding depth was 0.75”.
Seeding method: Six rows were seeded using a Fabro plot drill equipped with disc-type openers on 23 cm (9 inches) row spacing.
Surface spring soil moisture at seeding: 13.2% (0-5 cm soil depth).
Surface spring soil temperature a Seeding: 9.5°C (0-5 cm soil depth).
Fertility for an average forage yield (actual lbs/acre) was applied at: 37 N + 35 P2O5 + 0 K2O + 13 S. The soil test reports showed adequate amount of K for spring cereal growth, so no K was applied.
Herbicide applications: Pre-emergent was with StartUp glyphosate + LI surfactant, while an in-crop weed control was achieved with Prestige XL at 0.71 L/acre.
Plant height, plant lodging rating, and forage dry matter (DM) at the late-milk stage were taken on September 3. Forage samples were shipped to A & L laboratory, Ontario for forage quality determination.
Plant Growth and Lodging
Bunker, Circuit, and Pronghorn spring triticale varieties seemed to grow taller in plant height than other spring triticale and soft white wheat varieties. All triticale and soft white wheat varieties tested in this study had excellent lodging resistance. None of the varieties showed signs of weak stems during the growing season.
Forage Dry Matter Yield
Pronghorn triticale had the highest forage DM yield (11104 lbs/acre), followed by AAC Awesome soft white wheat (10134 lbs/acre). The crops generally had high forage DM yield with 11 of the 13 varieties producing >8000 lbs DM yield/acre.
The varieties were generally similar in forage protein, energy, and minerals (except for S and Zn).
The forage protein was generally above 10% CP for all varieties tested. The greater than 10% CP obtained for all varieties means that the protein requirements of dry gestating beef cows were met by these varieties. Also, most varieties conveniently met the 11% CP needed by a lactating beef cow. This shows that feeding silage from triticale and soft white wheat varieties would be able to provide adequate CP for different categories of mature beef cattle with no protein supplementation required.
For a mature beef cow to maintain her body condition score (BCS) through the winter, the ration must have a TDN energy reading of 55% in mid-pregnancy, 60% in late-pregnancy and 65% after calving. The forage energy (%TDN) varied from 58.7 to 63.6% TDN for the varieties examined in the present study. This shows that the energy requirements of pregnant beef cows have been mostly met by these varieties.
The triticale/wheat varieties had 0.15-0.26% Ca, 0.12-0.18% P, 0.86-1.47% K, and 0.14-0.20% Mg.
The forage Cu was generally less than 4 ppm for all varieties. Forage Fe varied from 52-109 ppm for varieties investigated. KWS Alderon general purpose wheat had significantly higher S than most varieties. T256 showed higher Zn than 9 of the varieties tested in this study. Supplementation of minerals is recommended for all varieties as no particular variety was able to completely meet the mineral levels needed by mature beef cattle.
Acid Detergent Fibre (ADF) is a measure of the plant components in forages that are the least digestible by livestock. As ADF increases, digestibility decreases, so forages with high ADF concentrations are typically lower in energy. Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF) relates to free-choice by livestock because it provides low-calorie filler. A producer should choose forages with low NDF percentages because these levels increase as forages mature. In this study, all crops had similar ADF, NDF, and other forms of energy, and RFV (Table 2). However, compared to other varieties, both AC Sadash SWW and KWS Alderon GPW seemed to be of better quality because of their lower ADF and NDF values.
In general, all spring triticale and wheat (soft white and general purpose) varieties tested in the present study produced high forage DM yield. AAC Awesome, AAC Paramount and AAC Indus soft white wheat varieties, and Pronghorn triticale were the top four forage DM yielders with 9500-11104 lbs DM yield/acre. Overall, protein and energy would be limited when any of the varieties evaluated in the present study are fed to pregnant beef cows. However, mineral supplementation would be required for most categories of beef cattle.