Spring Barley cover crop seed can be used as a cover crop in the spring or planted in the fall to provide a fall forage for deer. Winter barley grass is the most susceptible to winterkill of the cereal grains. Consideration should be made when grazing late into the fall. Barley’s value as a silage crop is the most comparable to whole-plant corn (90-100%).

  • Spring Barley cover crop seed can be grown further north than any other cereal grain
  • Great for cycling large amounts of nitrogen
  • Good option for salt-affected areas
  • Ideal when planted with legumes, especially in low fertility environments
  • More efficient use of water than other cereals
  • Heavy biomass producer and weed suppressor
  • Spring Barley’s value as a silage crop is comparable to whole-plant corn

Visit our Mixes page to explore premium Soil First mixes blended with different spring barley cover crop seed varieties. View mixes.

Non-Forage Benefits:
1 = Poor; 5 = Excellent

Compaction Alleviation: 1
Weed Suppression: 4
Biomass Production: 5
Erosion Control: 4
Disease/Pest Control: 3
Pollinator/Beneficials: 2
P & K Cycling: 3
Ease of Establishment: 4

Nitrogen Fixer/Scavenger: Scavenger

Nutritional Value:
Values Vary Greatly Depending on Maturity

Crude Protein: 12
NEL¹ Mcal/lb.: .58
ADF%²: 37
NDF%³: 58
TDN: 59
DM Tons/Acre: 2-4
Days to First Harvest: 50
Days to Next Harvest: –

¹- Net Energy for Lactation = Energy available after subtracting digestive and metabolic losses
²- Acid Detergent Fiber = Low values mean more digestible
³- Neutral Detergent Fiber = Low values mean cows can eat more

Ranking (Good, Better, Best):
Graze: Better
Baleage: Good
Chop: Best

Planting Time:

Seeding Rate:
Mono (lbs./acre): 30-50
Mix (lbs./acre): 20-40
Forage (lbs./acre): 80-120
Aerial (lbs./acre): NR

Seeding Info:
Carbon/Nitrogen Ratio (C:N): Straw- 80:1
Seeding Depth (in./with drill): 3/4-1
Seeds/lb.: 14-16,000
Bulk Density (lbs./ft.³): –
Aerial Application Rate: Not Rated
Germination Soil Temp.: 38 F
USDA Hardiness Zone: 6
Days to Emergence: 6-8

Barley is the most susceptible to winterkill of the cereal grains. Consideration should be made when grazing late into the fall. Barley’s value as a silage crop is the most comparable to whole-plant corn (90-100%).

Fertilizer removal rates need to be considered as well. When utilizing cover crops as forage, it’s critical to consider the nutrients being removed along with the biomass. These fertilizer levels will need to be added to ensure maximum nutrient availability for the following cash crop.

Hay Production
Hay yields often average between 2-4 tons/acre. Moisture content should be between 15-20% moisture. Hay quality is more maturity-dependent at harvest than is silage.

The most efficient time to harvest small grain cereals for hay is at early-milk stage. This allows for the greatest compromise between forage yield and
quality (quality would be greatest at the late-boot stage). To help speed up drying, a crimper is recommended when harvesting in the late-boot stage

Silage Production
Wheat, barley, oat and triticale silage yields are similar, 4-7 tons/acre of 35% dry matter forage in the boot stage and closer to 6-10 tons/acre when harvested in the late-boot stage. Small grains should be ensiled at between 62–68% moisture. Chop length should be set finer than when harvesting corn or forage sorghum. (Kansas State University)


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