Corn stalks are one of the better and least expensive winter feeds in corn-growing areas. But once cattle finish eating the grain and husks, what remains isn’t all that good, says University of Nebraska agronomist Bruce Anderson, PhD. Some growers, he says, have improved both the amount and quality of forage in stubble fields by flying turnip or rye seed onto standing corn.

When successful, turnip or rye plants provide more grazing days and extra protein when corn stalks become poor quality. Anderson notes, however, that it is not all that easy to get a good , productive stand of either turnips or rye in a growing corn field. Moisture easily can be limiting in dryland corn, but also can be difficult to manage in surface irrigated fields.

Even under pivots, providing water for rye or turnips without slowing corn harvest takes planning. Another problem is the dense canopy. Irrigated fields can be especially thick, shading out the new seedlings. This approach might work best in fields where growers plan to harvest the corn early for silage or high-moisture grain.

Anderson says herbicide carryover also can be a problem with the new plants, noting that turnips are very sensitive, and rye also can be affected depending on which herbicides were applied to the field. Finally, he says, traffic during corn harvest can damage the emerging plants, especially if conditions are muddy. Generally Anderson says he favors the idea of improving stubble fields by seeding additional crops, but he cautions producers to be aware of the challenges.