Wholecrop – a cost-competitive alternative

As well as reducing the reliance on purchased feed, wholecrop is a very flexible crop and can provide a versatile alternative or additional source of home grown forage to grass or maize silage, with the associated benefits as part of a rotation or break crop.


One of the key strengths of cereal silage in the diet is the rumen friendly nature of the fibre. Wholecrop can provide a cost effective, high quality forage of consistent quality and palatability, with high yields of dry matter (DM) even in dry seasons and cold weather. DM can be 35-40%, Protein 9-11% and starch 15-25%, depending on crop sown.

Homegrown protein and starch

Cereals can be grown across wide areas and conditions and wholecrop mixtures are an option to provide a good source of home produced protein and starch especially with today’s rising market. Wholecrop mixes can combine wheat, barley, oats or triticale with a legume crop such as peas or lupins. The cereal crop provides the energy in the form of starch and the legume provides protein.

Growing duration and mixtures

As spring sown wholecrop cereals or wholecrop mixtures are in the ground for a short period of time (12- 14 weeks), their early harvest allows earlier reseeding or drilling of other autumn combinable crops. Wholecrop cereals are also very useful as a cover crop for establishing an under sown grass crop. However, when using this option seed rates need to be reduced.

If growing a wholecrop mixture of barley and peas then the crop will reach harvest at a similar time. In a normal season harvest is from 20th July for late sown march crops and harvesting time is primarily defined by the barley.

Stop the loss of nutrients

When harvesting wholecrop it is recommended to use an additive to optimise fermentation and reduce aerobic spoilage.

Wholecrop additives 2021