Sorghum Sudan

Forage Use: Haylage

Highest producer of biomass of the summer cover crops.

These warm season annuals can produce lots of forage in a short period of time during the summer months. Heat, moisture and fertility will make them very productive. When moisture is short they will wait for the rain. Our newer varieties will change the way you think about this excellent low cost crop. They can be grazed or made for silage or balage. Use them as part of a double crop program, to thicken up thinning alfalfa fields or to rotate out a weak or undesirable pasture. When following with a fall forage such as Italian ryegrass, alfalfa or pasture, we recommend disking the crop down in late August to early September to insure a good start for the next crop. Most grazing farms should have a percentage of their farm in sorghum sudangrass to help fill in the summer slump when the cool season pasture is slowing down.

Establishment

Seed 25-60 lbs/A at a depth of 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches. Plant when the soil temperatures are at least 60 degrees. Sowing at higher rates, 70 lbs or more, makes an excellent smother crop for fields with weed problems.

Management

Fertilization Utilizes manure nutrients very well. P, K, and other nutrients similar to corn silage. Apply manure prior to seeding. Total nitrogen requirements for Sorghum Sudan are 1 ¼ units of N per growing day. Commercial nitrogen is best between cuttings. Manure applications between cuttings can cause severe stand thinning due to wheel traffic and potential crop disease problems. If crop is light green or yellowish, either not enough nitrogen is available or soil conditions are too wet. Harvest Height 32” to 44” is ideal and will increase the root mass five to eight times compared to unmowed sorghum sudans. . Leave 6 inch stubble (4” for Summer Dream) height for regrowth. When mowing, make a wide swath to remove water as quickly as possible. Wide swathing makes a huge difference with Sorghum Sudan. Growth of Sorghum Sudan is very rapid once it reaches 2 feet tall or so. Rates of 4 inches a day are common. To avoid missing your harvest window, we recommend putting a post with a bright flag in an area of the field so that crop height can be easily observed on a daily basis. Harvest Methods Grazing, Balage, and Haylage. For haylage, longer chop length is needed for effective fiber. Cutting Sorghum Sudan places a lot of material on the ground. For fastest drying, use a conditioner and spread the swath as wide as possible. Use a tedder to facilitate wilt. It winter kills easily and, because it’s a succulent, breaks down well through the winter.

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