Evaluating Forage Sorghum and Pearl Millet for Forage Production and Quality in the Texas High Plains
Machicek, Joshua Andrew
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As water levels in the Ogallala Aquifer continue to decline in the Texas High Plains, alternative forage crops that utilize less water must be identified to help meet the forage demands of the livestock industry in the region. The purpose of this two year study was to evaluate forage sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] and pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L.) Leeke] for forage production and quality. Three different harvesting regimes were implemented to evaluate forage productivity and regrowth of both crops throughout the 2016 and 2017 growing seasons. These different regimes included: three 30 day, two 45 day, and one 90 day harvest. Pearl millet and forage sorghum total dry matter production in 2016 ranged from 3.96 to 6.28 Mg DM ha⁻¹ and 5.38 to 11.19 Mg DM ha⁻¹ and in 2017 ranged from 6.00 to 9.87 Mg DM ha⁻¹ and 6.53 to 15.51 Mg DM ha⁻¹, respectively. A 90 d harvest in the Texas High Plains will maximize water use efficiency and DM production; however, some forage quality may be sacrificed.