Summer Forage frequently asked questions
What are the advantages of Summer Forage?
Planting summer forage sorghum offers many advantages:
• It can grow well in both high and even in low potential areas with poor soils.
• As a fodder crop it can be used in adequate supply when maize and other feed sources fail.
• Most varieties of summer forage produce much more forage than corn.
• Unlike corn, the lower leaves do not dry out as the plant matures; they remain green and therefore retain a higher crude protein content.
• Summer forage can regenerate (grow again) after cutting the stalks for fodder; The ratoon crop will mature early in the following season but yield slightly less than the first crop – depending on level of plant feeds available. This way farmers can reduce the cost of replanting forage sorghum by minimising land preparation, seeds and time.
• As animal feed, it has the same energy level as maize or other cereals.
• Summer Forage can withstand dry conditions and remain green at very low moisture levels.
Is Summer Forage easy to plant?
To get a good Summer Forage crop a farmer needs to understand the sorghum growth stages and observe these guidelines:
Land Preparation: For both forage and food varieties of sorghum, start preparing the land at the end of the rains following a crop season. Summer Forage does well in sandy soils. It can also be grown where the soils are not disturbed much (where conservation tillage is practiced).
Seed rate and spacing: For information on seed rate and spacing please see the Summer Crop Variety Guide.
Sowing: Summer Forage should be sown at the onset of the long rains. Drill seeds along the furrows (trenches).
Manure application: Well-composted manure should be applied during land preparation and worked into the soil. Organic foliar feeds can be added when the plant is knee high.
Weeding: Hand weeding should be done at least twice. A sorghum field should be kept weed-free, especially at early stages of growth which is the most important of the sorghum growth stages.
Pest and disease control: Control of cutworms, aphids, shoot-fly and stalk borer is important. Birds like sorghum especially at milk stage; they prefer white-seeded varieties. Sorghum is generally disease tolerant. Control disease when necessary.
Harvesting: Summer Forage meant for feed can be cut when still green and fresh. Leave it in sun to allow wilting for 12 hours then chop and then feed the animals. To make silage, start harvesting at dough stage (between milky and hardening stage). For dual-purpose sorghum, cut the head with a knife or use a combine harvester.
What is Pioneer® brand products Betta Graze?
Betta Graze is a tall late flowering, late maturing hybrid (sorghum x sudan hybrid) grown for high quality, high yielding summer feed for grazing in dairy, beef and sheep systems, and also for silage .
Rapid early growth, quick recovery after grazing or cutting along with delayed flowering means Betta Graze is a versatile, easy to manage summer feed. High sugar content, fine stems and a high leaf to stem ratio ensure excellent palatability and feed value.
Betta Graze seed is available with bird repellent for an extra charge. This will reduce the risk of crop establishment problems due to bird damage of seedling crops.
What is the best timing in order to maximize utilisation of Betta Graze?
Betta Graze feed value is highest when the crop is less than 1.2 m in height. Graze Betta Graze behind a wire or cut it 35-45 days after planting when the crop reaches around 1 metre in height. Leave a residual of 15cm for maximum regrowth. Recut or graze after 4-5 weeks when the crop is at least 0.8m and no more than 1.2m in height.
What are my feeding options for Betta Graze?
Betta Graze can be grazed by break feeding to stock. Back-fencing is essential to minimise plant damage and allow quick re-growth in the grazed portion of the crop and to avoid crop toxicity.
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 hours.
What is Pioneer® brand products Super Sweet Sudan?
Pioneer® brand products hybrid Super Sweet Sudan (SSS) is quick to graze and sustains multiple and intensive grazing. SSS produces high-quality hay and round bale silage suitable for sheep and cattle. Adaptable for early or late planting.
What is the primary use of SSS?
Cattle and sheep plus intensive or non intensive grazing. SSS produces highly palatable hay plus round bale silage.
How do i get the best result from SSS?
Please see our SSS forage sorghum planting guides. A sorghum planting guide for each state is available.
If you require further information on any aspect of where to buy or how to plant sorghum seeds to maximise the yield and quality of your summer forage crop, contact your local Pioneer® Seeds Australia representative.