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The basics of forage sorghum production and products

Forage sorghum and sorghum x sudangrass hybrids (often referred to as sorghum-sudan) have been around for a long time, but they have been big, stalky and mediocre forage quality. As a result, beef and dairy cattle feeding on these forages have shown average performance. And for farmers that used sorghum-sudan for hay, the stuff was hard on equipment and hard to dry. The one advantage of these sorghum products has always been their exceptional drought tolerance and big yields. In recent years, major advances have been made on these products. Specifically, the BMR (brown midrib) trait has been developed. The BMR trait has also been introduced to hybrid pearl millet.

These highly drought tolerant, high-yielding, and now high-quality summer annuals – especially the BMR varieties – have many advantages. For example, BMR forage sorghum can show comparable silage yields and forage quality to corn silage, with less nitrogen, less water, and lower seed costs. Sorghum-sudan and hybrid pearl millet can provide outstanding forage yields and quality for grazing or hay, even in dry conditions.

Sorghum x Sudangrass Hybrid

Macronutrient needs

Sorghum-sudan and Hybrid Pearl Millet for grazing and hay

Estimated fertilizer pounds per acre per growing day:

  • Nitrogen (N) - 1
  • Phosphorous (P2O5) - 1
  • Potassium (K2O) – 1.3

Forage Sorghum for silage production

Estimated fertilizer pounds per acre per ton of production:

  • Nitrogen (N) - 5
  • Phosphorous (P2O5) – 2.5-3.75
  • Potassium (K2O) – 5.5-6

NOTE: Fertilizer requirements for each field can vary significantly.

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