Evaluating Forage Sorghum-Cowpea and Pearl Millet-Cowpea Production and Quality in the Texas High Plains



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Despite declining water availability in the semi-arid southern High Plains, demand for high-quality forages by the livestock and dairy industries continues to grow. Alternative forage crops with high water use efficiencies should be explored to meet this demand. Grass-legume intercrops may improve the nutritive value of the forage product, but viable intercrops must maintain yield levels. The purpose of this study was to evaluate forage sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench]-cowpea [Vigna unguiculate (L.) Walp] and pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L.) Leeke]-cowpea intercrops for forage production and quality. Four planting arrangements per grass species were included in the 2020 and 2021 growing seasons to evaluate forage production of sorghum-cowpea and pearl millet-cowpea intercrops under limited irrigation. Treatments were sole pearl millet, sole forage sorghum, sole cowpea, or mixtures of either pearl millet-cowpea or forage sorghum-cowpea planted in the same row, alternating rows (millet-cowpea 1:1 or sorghum-cowpea 1:1), or two rows alternating (millet-cowpea 2:2 or sorghum-cowpea 2:2). Intercrop biomass yields ranged from 11.6 to 16.2 Mg ha-1 in 2020 and from 7.2 to 12.4 Mg ha-1 in 2021. Results from both study years indicate that the studied intercrops are able to maintain yield, quality, and WUE levels similar to sole pearl millet and forage sorghum.



Forage Sorghum, Pearl Millet, Cowpea, Intercrop, Forage Intercrop, Planting Arrangement, Forage


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