Each year, Extension and university professionals from Alabama, Georgia, and Florida partner to provide a tristate list of cool-season annual forage variety recommendations. These recommendations include annual ryegrass, cereal rye, wheat, oat, and triticale. The Alabama Variety Trial Testing Program, directed by Henry Jordan, provides Alabama producers with an objective evaluation of both commercially available and experimental varieties of these forage species. The tables below represents the recommended varieties of each forage species based on a rolling three-year average.
Not all commercially available varieties are entered into the trial, so this is not a comprehensive list. These recommendations are based on three regions of Alabama (north, central, and south). Any recommended variety has a yield performance above average during the last three years. Due to an early-season freeze event in December 2022, recommendations for north Alabama are based on data from previous years.
Table 1. Recommended Forage Small Grain Varieties
2 More tolerant to crown rust
N = North; S = South; State = Statewide
*Awnless varieties recommended for wildlife food plots
|Horizon 306 (State)||AGS 2024 (State)||Swift (S)||TriCal 1143 (S)1*|
|Horizon 720 (State)2||AGS 3026 (S)||Elbon (State)||TriCal 342 (State)|
|Plot Spike (S)||AGS 3022 (S)||Florida 401 (S)1||TriCal Surge (State)|
|Legend 567 (S)2||AGS 4043||Kelly Grazer III (State)|
|NF402 (State)||AGS 4023 (S)||Wrens Abruzzi (State)|
|RAM LA99016 (State)||Dyna-Gro Plantation (S)||Florida 405 (S)1|
|Juggernaut (S)||AGS 3015 (S)||Florida 405 (S)1|
- Cereal rye. Other late season varieties are Bates RS4, Elbon, Oklon, Maton, and Maton II. Each has performed well in the past, but have not been evaluated in recent trials in the Southeast.
- Oat. RAM LA 99016 is being substituted by RAM FLLA11019-8, but both are still in the market. A cold spell in the 2022-2023 winter resulted in significant losses in oat fields. Horizon 306 and RAM LA 99016 are considered late types and more cold tolerant but are still less productive and more disease prone than other options.
- Triticale. TriCal 342 is an earlier variety, while Surge and Trical 1134 are late varieties.
The following are recommendations for each region of Alabama (north, central, and south) as well as statewide. Maturity is also listed (early season, late season, and season long).
Table 2. Recommended Annual Ryegrass Varieties for Early, Late, and Season-Long Forage Production
|Variety||North (Early Season)||North (Late Season)||North (Season Long)||Central (Early Season)||Central (Late Season)||Central (Season Long)||South (Early Season)||South (Late Season)||South (Season Long)||Statewide (Early Season)||Statewide (Late Season)||Statewide (Season Long)|
For more information on each trial and variety availability, visit the Auburn University Variety Testing Program web page at aaes.auburn.edu/variety-tests/. You can also listen to the Auburn University College of Agriculture’s Cow Talks podcast episode 2023 Cool Season Forage Recommendations.
For information on seeding rates, depths, and other establishment considerations, consult Alabama Extension’s Alabama Forage Basics Handbook. A digital version can be found at www.aces.edu. You can also contact your local animal science and forages regional Extension agent to access a printed copy.
Leanne Dillard, Extension Specialist, Assistant Professor; Joshua Elmore, Regional Extension Agent, Animal Science and Forages; both with Auburn University. Marcela Wallau, Forage Extension Specialist, with UF/IFAS Extension.