Forage Production and Quality of Forage Sorghum Intercropped with Sunnhemp at Different Seeding Rates



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The Texas High Plains region is primarily known for grain and forage crop production for cattle feed. It is important to determine alternative crops that provide optimal nutrition to cattle and are drought and heat tolerant due to the increasing importance to improve crop water use efficiency in crops grown in the region. Forage sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] is well-established in the Texas High Plains as a drought tolerant forage for cattle that often requires additional feed to provide adequate amounts of protein and other necessary nutrients for livestock. By intercropping a forage legume such as sunnhemp (Crotalaria juncea L.) with forage sorghum, crude protein may be increased. However, the optimal intercrop seeding ratio of sunnhemp to sorghum to improve crude protein content and maintain sufficient biomass is unknown. In 2020 and 2021, a field experiment was conducted using sunnhemp intercropped at three seeding rates (16.8, 33.6, and 50.4 kg ha-1) with forage sorghum at four seeding rates (0, 2.8, 5.6, and 11.2 kg ha-1) under drip irrigation. One objective of this research was to evaluate the potential for the growth of sunnhemp in a semi-arid environment such as the Texas High Plains. Another objective of this research was to determine the effects of intercropping sunnhemp with forage sorghum at different seeding rates on dry matter production and forage quality. Results from this study indicate that sunnhemp does not affect dry matter and crude protein content in a forage sorghum-sunnhemp intercrop when harvested at 50% flowering of sunnhemp.



forage production, intercrops, forage sorghum, sunnhemp, seeding rates, forage quality


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