Summer Feed
Technical
Insight 501

PIONEER®BETTA GRAZE

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FORAGE SORGHUM X SUDAN GRASS

 

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Pioneer® brand Betta Graze is a tall, late flowering, late maturing hybrid (sorghum x sudan grass hybrid) grown for, high yielding summer feed for grazing in dairy, beef and sheep systems.

Rapid early growth, quick recovery after grazing or cutting along with delayed flowering, means Betta Graze is a versatile, easy to manage summer feed.  It has a high sugar content, fine stems and a high leaf-to-stem ratio for excellent palatability and good feed value.

Betta Graze requires a minimum soil temperature of 15oC and rising for quick germination and establishment. First to plant first to feed.

SITE SELECTION

The crop fits well into a pasture renewal programme. Forage sorghum and sudan grass hybrids may be susceptible to herbicide residues from previous crops. Check with your local Pioneer representative before establishing crops in paddocks which have been recently sprayed with products other than glyphosate.

SOIL FERTILITY

A soil test is recommended to identify nutrient status and any possible deficiencies. The levels of P and N are important and a specific fertiliser recommendation should be obtained from your local merchant, fertiliser representative or Pioneer representative, based on the results of the soil test and the requirements of the crop.

The ideal soil pH range is 5.5 - 8, and the phosphate level should be greater than 20 ppm. In acidic soils, lime should be applied and incorporated during seedbed preparation. To better understand nutrient removal rates and NPK required to grow a successful forage sorghum crop, please refer to the seed technical insight 505 link.

GROUND PREPARATION

Effective weed control is important for Betta Graze establishment and yield. It is critical to (1) ensure the seed bed is weed-free and (2) to plant when the soil temperatures are high enough to ensure rapid Bettagraze growth. A well-prepared seedbed is preferred to promote establishment and good weed control.

SOWING DATE

Betta Graze should be sown 35 - 45 days before it is required for silage or grazing, although not before the soil temperature, at 5 cm depth, reaches 15oC and is rising.  In southern Australia, Betta Graze is an excellent crop to follow cereal silage or a late pasture silage cut in November/December. The cold tolerance of Betta Graze makes it the first summer forage to plant post winter and first to feed in central and northern Australia.

For personalized advice on planting rates to suit your region and soil type, please contact your local Pioneer Area Manager or Pioneer Promoter. Crops planted at higher rates will have thinner stems and a higher yield potential. Broadcast sowing is not recommended as results are extremely variable.

TIMING OF UTILISATION

Betta Graze can be direct grazed or cut for hay or silage. Feed quality will be maximized when the crop reaches around 1 metre in height. Although Betta Graze is a late flowering plant, and has better mature leaf retention than other sorghums, it will become rank and lose quality if left too late before grazing or cutting.

GRAZING

Betta Graze should be grazed by break feeding to stock. Back-fencing is essential to minimize plant damage and allow quick re-growth in the grazed portion of the crop and to avoid crop toxicity. For maximum re-growth potential aim to leave a grazing residual of 15 cm. The crop can be recut or grazed after 4 - 5 weeks when it is at least 0.8 m in height.

FEED VALUE

The drymatter content of Betta Graze that is 0.8 - 1.0m in height is typically between 13 - 17% DM with 15% being a good average figure to use to determine cow crop allowance. Forage sorghum cross sudan-grass hybrids produce feed with an average energy content of between 9.0 and 10.0 MJME/kgDM depending on crop maturity at harvest time.

SILAGE

Betta Graze can be made into pit, bunker or round bale silage. It is always recommended to cut using a mower-conditioner and wilt in the paddock for a maximum of 48 hour depending on weather conditions at the time. Betta Graze can also be made into large or small square or round bales to provide excellent fodder conservation for your operation.

HORSES

Forage sorghum and sudan grass hybrids can cause major health problems for horses. They should not be grazed by horses or fed to them as hay or silage.

AUTUMN/ WINTER MANAGEMENT

Frosted Betta Graze can be toxic. Always spray out Betta Graze crops before autumn/winter frosts and/or regrassing. 

NITRATES

Any crop that grows rapidly has the potential to accumulate nitrates. Nitrate levels are higher in rapidly growing summer forage crops that have been planted in high fertility paddocks. Nitrate levels also rise in crops that have been drought stressed or frosted. If you suspect nitrate poisoning, contact your veterinarian immediately.

PRUSSIC ACID

Betta Graze, like all forage sorghums, can release the toxic compound hydrogen cyanide (HCN) causing prussic acid poisoning. Potential Prussic acid poisoning from grazing Betta Graze poses a lower risk than forage sorghums that are not crossed with a Sudan grass. If you are concerned about (HCN) then the following information may be useful. Sorghum plants may be low in sulphur and feeding sulphur will reduce the risk of prussic acid problems. Supplementation of sulphur is recommended if the pasture sulphur is low (less than 0.25%). To supplement sulfur, consider the use of sulfur blocks near watering points. Also ensure animals have a full stomach before the initial grazing commences.

 

Factors which increase the level of prussic acid include: 
Young plants: Avoid grazing crops under 0.8 m high.
Drought: Severe moisture stress.
Frost: Levels rise after light frosts. If crop is killed by frost, wait 5 days to graze.
Nitrogen: Very high available soil nitrogen may lead to higher levels, as does large amounts applied.
Low phosphorus: Inadequate or deficient soil phosphorus.
Re-growth: Cutting or grazing is a stress on plants, wait until plants are at least 80 cm high.
Herbicides: Applying 2, 4-D may raise HCN level.

 

For more information on Betta Graze, contact your local Pioneer representative or call 1800 PIONEER (746 633).


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© 2017, GenTech Seeds Pty Ltd. No part of this publication can be reproduced without prior written consent from GenTech Seeds Pty Ltd.

Revised: September 2016
Expires: September 2017