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Wholecrop an alternative to grass or maize?

Wholecrop can be sown in either the autumn or spring but when sown in the spring they are in the ground for a short time (12 – 14 weeks) and so their early harvest allows earlier reseeding and drilling of other autumn combinable crops. Wholecrop cereals can also be sown as a cover crop for establishing an under sown grass ley.

There are various options for harvesting at different stages of maturity and using additives which will affect the yield and nutritional quality of the resulting feed.

Benefits of growing wholecrop:

  • Good nutritional, agronomic and versatile crop.
    • Produces good levels of home grown energy reducing reliance on purchased feed.
    • Improves soil structure and increases organic matter content.
    • Useful alternative forage for grass and maize systems.
    • Provides good slow fermenting starch and high dry matter forage.
    • Wide sowing period as well as harvesting window.
    • Cereals are very versatile and can be grown under a wide range of conditions, especially where maize may not be an option.


  Dry Matter (%) Energy (MJ / kgDM) Crude Protein (%) Starch (%)
Wholecrop Options        
Fermented  35-45 10-11.0 9-12 20-25
Urea treated 55-65 10-11.0 15-25 25-35
Alkalage  75-85 10.5-11.5 14-16 35-45
Grain Options        
Crimped 55-65 12.0-13.5 10-11.5 45-60
Combined 80-85 12.5-13.5 10-11 50-65


What to grow?

  • Wheat

High levels of energy, starch and effective fibre. Average yield 10-14 tonnes / acre (fresh weight)

  • Barley

Good levels of energy, starch and effective fibre. Average yield 8 – 12 tonnes / acre (fresh weight)

  • Oats

Moderate levels of energy, starch and high levels of effective fibre. Average yield 10 – 15 tonnes / acre (fresh weight).

Link: 61907