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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 98 No. 4, p. 992-998
    Received: Dec 27, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): david.nielsen@ars.usda.gov
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Forage Yield Response to Water Use for Dryland Corn, Millet, and Triticale in the Central Great Plains

  1. David C. Nielsen *,
  2. Merle F. Vigil and
  3. Joseph G. Benjamin
  1. USDA-ARS, Central Great Plains Research Station, 40335 County Road GG, Akron, CO 80720


Forages, with greater water use efficiency (WUE) than grain and seed crops, could be used to diversify reduced and no-till dryland cropping systems from the traditional wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)–fallow system in the semiarid central Great Plains. However, farmers need a simple tool to evaluate forage productivity under widely varying precipitation conditions. The objectives of this study were to (i) quantify the relationship between crop water use and dry matter (DM) yield for corn (Zea mays L.), foxtail millet (Setaria italica L. Beauv.), and winter triticale (X Triticosecale Wittmack); and (ii) determine the range and distribution of expected DM yields for these three crops in the central Great Plains based on historical precipitation records. The three crops were grown in a dryland no-till corn–millet–triticale sequence from 1998 through 2004 at Akron, CO. Dry matter production was linearly correlated with water use for all three crops, with regression slopes ranging from 24.2 (corn) to 33.0 kg ha−1 mm−1 (millet). Water use efficiency varied widely from year to year (0–32.2 kg ha−1 mm−1) for the three crops, as influenced by growing season precipitation and time of year in which the crops were grown. Millet and triticale produced similar amounts of DM for a given water use, while corn produced less. Precipitation use efficiency for the millet–triticale–corn forage system was 8.7 kg ha−1 mm−1, suggesting this as an efficient forage system for the region.

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