Perennial grass that can feed your animals and provide flour for bread

New videos discuss intermediate wheatgrass, once only considered for pasture, as a potential multi-use cover crop.

Intermediate wheatgrass grain field
Intermediate wheatgrass grain field, just prior to harvest. Photo by Vicki Morrone, MSU Extension.

We always want a silver bullet and maybe we are on the way to finding at least a shiny bullet. Intermediate wheatgrass, once only considered for pasture, has been selected for its value as a multipurpose crop, offering grain, straw, pasture and incredible roots, which are super soil and nutrient holders. You are invited to watch two short videos by Vicki Morrone, member of the Michigan State University Extension cover crop team, showing how intermediate wheat grass, a perennial grain, grows in Michigan at the MSU Kellogg Biological Station in Hickory Corners, Michigan.

Researchers Morrone, Snapp and Cassida conducted three years of research to determine if the crop can be used for grain for flour, also known as Kernza, and grazing. In the videos, we share how this multipurpose crop can be grown and offer possible approaches for good establishment, noting that soil needs to be prepared for the long haul as this is a perennial crop.

Like every crop, nitrogen and weed management are needed. In the first year, cultivation may be necessary following germination to control weeds. Of course, you can intercrop the intermediate wheatgrass with a cover crop like crimson clover at planting to provide nitrogen and compete against weeds. For more information, visit the Land Use Institute website where you will find information on management and sourcing seed.

For more information on grasses and other cover crop species, check out the resources Managing Cover Crops Profitably and the Midwest Cover Crops Council Field Guide. Cover crop information and resources are available through Michigan State University Extension’s Cover Crops page and the Midwest Cover Crops Council, or contact Christina Curell.

This work is supported by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program 2017-70006-27175 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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