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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 87 No. 5, p. 952-957
    Received: Apr 8, 1994

    * Corresponding author(s):
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Ratoon Cropping Forage Sorghum for Silage: Yield, Fermentation, and Nutrition

  1. M. E. McCormick ,
  2. M. E. Morris,
  3. B. A. Ackerson and
  4. D. C. Blouin
  1. A ckerson, Louisiana Agric. Exp. Sin. (LAES), P.O. Drawer 567, Franklinton, LA 70438
    A ppalachian Soil and Water Conservation Research Lab, Beckley
    D ep. of Experimental Statistics, Louisiana State Univ., LAES, LAES, Baton Rouge



Two field experiments were conducted on Lexington silt loam soil (fine-silty, mixed, thermic Typic Paleudalf) to identify a harvest regime that would improve the nutritive value of ensiled whole-plant sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] while maintaining silage yield. In a 1-yr preliminary study, first-cut sorghum was harvested at mid-vegetative, late-vegetative, boot, bloom, and hard-dough stages of maturity. Regrowth was harvested in late August. In a 2-yr experiment, yield, ensiling losses, intake, and in vivo apparent digestibility of vegetative sorghum (initial and ratoon cute wilted 24 h) were compared with direct cut hard-dough-stage sorghum. Forages were stored in 1.8-Mg-capacity (fresh wt.) experimental silos and, upon opening, were fed to lambs (Ovis aries}. Results from the preliminary experiment indicated that dry matter (DM) yield of first-cut sorghum was greatest at the hard-dough stage; however, nutritional value was greatest for the mid-vegetative stage. Maximum yield for the combined harvests was obtained when first harvest was made at boot stage. The 2-yr experiment average DM yields were 7.3 Mg ha−1 for combined initial (mid-vegetative stage) and ratoon crops, compared with 6.7 Mg ha−1 for the single hard-dough-stage harvest. Ensiling fosses did not differ with harvest regime. Vegetative sorghum was more digestible than sorghum harvested at the hard-dough stage (670 vs. 570 g kg−1). These studies suggest that sorghum harvested twice per season (with wilting) will produce a higher quality silage than a single hard-dough stage cutting, without yield reduction

Approved for publication by the Director of the LAES as Manuscript no. 94-88-8049.

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