Double cropping after wheat

Jul 13, 2012
by WLJ
Double cropping after wheat

The year 2012 will go down in the record books as one of the earliest winter wheat harvests in history. To take advantage of the early harvest, South Dakota farmers may consider double cropping, says Bob Fanning, South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension plant pathology field specialist.

“Two crops in one year may sound tempting, and for some crop species is possible, but before doing so, producers should consider possible crops and compare the potential benefits with the drawbacks,” Fanning said.

He encourages growers to reference the Emergency Late-seeding Options guide for a quick reference of choices that might work for double-cropping.

The options presented in the factsheet assume adequate soil moisture is present to germinate the seed at the time of planting. Fanning says growers should crossreference crops with prior herbicide usage to ensure they are compatible with possible herbicide carryover.

“The market prices for many agricultural commodities are good, but some of the deterrents to double-cropping include additional input costs, heavy dependence on summer rains, increased workload and the possible negative effects on future crops,” Fanning said.

He adds that a second crop grown in the same year cannot be insured at this time in South Dakota.

“Producers planting these crops for grain will be self-insured,” he said.

Forages are better double-cropping options

With the lack of grass growth, poor hay crops reported in many areas, and reports of dry conditions in much of the state, Fanning says forage crops may be some of the better double-cropping options.

“Anything that can be grazed will reduce input costs, particularly if the land is already fenced and water is accessible,” Fanning said. “If raising crops for forage, be aware of the potential for nitrate and/ or prussic acid poisoning.”

He encourages growers to refer to the following publications which discuss the dangers of increased nitrates in forages: “Nitrate Poisoning of Livestock,” “Forage Nitrate Poisoning,” “Prussic Acid Poisoning” and “Prussic Acid Poisoning of Livestock.” More information can also be found in “Utilizing Annual Crops for Forage in Western South Dakota” and “Producing Annual and Alternative Crops for Forage.” The links to these publications can be found on

Cover crops are another option

If adequate soil moisture is available, the early wheat harvest that is expected may prompt some producers to simply plant cover crops, which can have multiple benefits, says Fanning, who encourages growers to do their research.

An extensive list of cover crops, their specific characteristics, including what category they fall into, is listed in a table assembled by the Natural Resources Conservation Service can be found at — SDSU Extension