Hand-Plucked Forage Yield and Quality and Seed Production from Annual and Short-Lived Perennial Warm-Season Legumes Fertilized with Composted Manure
Productive warm-season forage legume species adapted to drier regions of the southeastern USA have yet to be identified. This trial evaluated adaptability, forage quality, hand-plucked forage yield, and seed production of legumes in north-central Texas as affected by dairy manure compost and harvest deferment. For 2 yr, eight warm-season annual or short-lived perennial legume species, with or without 20 Mg dairy manure compost ha−1 yr−1 added to the soil, were either hand-plucked monthly throughout the season or once-only in the autumn. Compost increased (P < 0.05) forage P and crude protein (CP) concentrations and plant-available soil P by the end of the trial. Phasey bean [Macroptilium lathyroides (DC) Urb.], peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) and ‘iron-clay’ cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.]) harvested throughout the season yielded over 2.5 Mg of high quality forage ha−1 yr−1 during the higher rainfall year. Autumn-only harvests produced lower yields but "Tecomate" lablab [Lablab purpureus (L.) Sweet] and peanut responded to autumn rainfall in the higher rainfall year with yields over 1.7 Mg ha−1 yr−1 Forage yields were less than 1.0 Mg ha−1 yr−1 during the second year when plots received only 358 mm of moisture from January through September. Both partridge pea [Chameacrista fasciculata (Michx) Greene] and phasey bean produced over 5000 seed ha−1 yr−1 the higher rainfall year under autumn-only harvest and over 1200 seed ha−1 yr−1 under all-season harvest. Quality of the herbage changed with precipitation, species, and harvest. Although not highly productive under dryland conditions, these legumes can contribute both forage and seeds for livestock and wildlife.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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