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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Forage Quality of Selected Wild Sunflower Species1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 78 No. 6, p. 1059-1064
    Received: Dec 2, 1985

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  1. Gerald J. Seiler2



Although wild sunflower (Helianthus spp.) may be components of pastures, hay, and silage, little information exists on their contribution to overall forage quality. The objective of this study was to evaluate 26 taxa of wild sunflower species for protein and mineral concentrations at various stages of maturity. The field experiment was conducted on Pullman clay loam (fine, mixed, thermic Torrertic Paleustoll) soil, and the experimental design was completely randomized with three replicates. The leaves and stems of 19 annual and seven perennial taxa of wild species and a commercial sunflower, ‘hybrid 894’, were planted in pure stands and evaluated at vegetative, flowering, and fruiting stages to ascertain their nutritive value for ruminants. Crude protein (CP) of 140 g kg−1 and above occurred in leaves of 19 of 26 taxa (15 were annuals) at the vegetative stage. Nutritionally adequate amounts of Ca (2 to 5 g kg−1) were present in the leaves and stems of all wild sunflower taxa. Nutritionally adequate amounts of Mg (2 g kg−1) and K (8 g kg−1) were present in the leaves of most wild taxa at all stages of maturity. Leaves and stems of most taxa at the flowering and fruiting stages had sub-optimum P (< 3 g kg 1) levels for high producing ruminants. Nutritionally adequate amounts of CP, Mg, and P were present in whole seeds of most species. At varying maturity stages, nutrient levels of some of the wild sunflower species are comparable to that of cultivated sunflower. Ruminants most likely would not graze pure stands of wild sunflower but would graze in mixed stands with other forbs and grasses. Hence, wild sunflower may be incorporated into hay or silage and provide a satisfactory nutrition level for ruminants.

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