Planting sorghum sudan grass

Sorghum Sudangrass

To extend weed suppressive effects into the second season, select a cultivar known for weed suppression and leave roots undisturbed when the stalks are mowed or grazed (440).

Beneficial habitat. Some related sorghum cultivars harbor beneficial insects such as seven-spotted lady beetles (Coccinella septempunctata) and lacewings (Chrysopa carnea) (421).

Nematodes. Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and other sorghum-related crops and cultivars suppress some species of nematodes. Specific cultivars vary in their effectiveness on different races of nematodes. These high-biomass-producing crops have a general suppressive effect due to their organic matter contributions. But they also produce natural nematicidal compounds that chemically suppress some nematodes, many studies show.

Timing of cutting and tillage is very important to the effectiveness of nematode suppression. The cover crop needs to be tilled before frost while it is still green. Otherwise, the nematicidal effect is lost. For maximum suppression of soilborne diseases, cut or chopped sudangrass must be well incorporated immediately (308).

For suppressing root-knot nematodes in Idaho potato fields, rapeseed has proven slightly more effective and more dependable than sorghum-sudangrass hybrids (394).

In an Oregon potato trial, TRUDAN 8 sudangrass controlled Columbia root-knot nematodes (Meloidogoyne Chitwoodi), a serious pest of many vegetable crops. Control extended throughout the zone of residue incorporation. The cover crop’s effect prevented upward migration of the nematodes into the zone for six weeks, working as well as the nematicide ethoprop. Both treatments allowed infection later in the season (285).

In the study, TRUDAN 8 sudangrass and the sorghum-sudangrass hybrid cultivars SORDAN 79 and SS-222 all reduced populations of root-knot nematodes. These cultivars are poor nematode hosts and their leaves—not roots—have a nematicidal effect. TRUDAN 8 should be used if the crop will be grazed due to its lower potential for prussic acid poisoning. The sorghum-sudangrass cultivars are useful if the cover crop is intended for anti-nematicidal effects only (285). In other Oregon and Washington trials, the cover crop suppression required supplemental chemical nematicide to produce profitable levels of U.S. No. 1 potatoes (285). These same sudangrass and sorghum-sudangrass hybrid cultivars failed to show any significant nematicidal effects in a later experiment in Wisconsin potato fields (249).

When faced with infestations of the nematodes Meloidogoyne incognita and M. arenaria, Oswego, N.Y., onion grower Dan Dunsmoor found that a well-incorporated sorghum-sudangrass cover crop was more effective than fumigation. Further, the nematicidal effect continued into the next season, while the conditions a year after fumigation seemed worse than before the application. He reports that the sorghum-sudangrass cover crop also controls onion maggot, thrips and Botrytis leaf blight (217).

Insect pests. Chinch bug (Blissus leucopterus), sorghum midge (Contarinia sorghicola), corn leaf aphid (Rhopalosiphum maidis), corn earworm (Heliothis zea), greenbugs (Schizaphis graminum) and sorghum webworm (Celama sorghiella) sometimes attack sorghum-sudangrass hybrids. Early planting helps control the first two pests, and may reduce damage from webworms. Some cultivars and hybrids are resistant to chinch bugs and some biotypes of greenbugs (361). In Georgia, some hybrids hosted corn leaf aphid, greenbug, southern green stinkbugs (Nezara viridula) and leaffooted bug (Leptoglossus phyllopus).

Summer Covers Relieve Compaction

A summer planting of sudangrass was the best single-season cover crop for relieving soil compaction in vegetable fields, a team of Cornell researchers found. Yellow mustard, HUBAM annual white sweetclover and perennial ryegrass also were effective to some extent in the multi-year study. But sudangrass has proven the most promising so far,” says project coordinator David Wolfe. It has shown the fastest root growth.”

“Sudangrass is best managed with one mowing during the season,” Wolfe adds. Mowing promotes tillering and a deep, penetrating root system. Mowing also makes it easier to incorporate the large amount of biomass produced by this crop. With its high C:N ratio, it adds to soil organic matter.

Farmers and researchers have long known that alfalfa’s deep root system is a great compaction-buster. But alfalfa does not establish easily on wet compacted fields, and most vegetable growers can’t afford to remove land from production for two to three years to grow it, notes Wolfe. Many also lack the equipment to subsoil their fields, which is often only a temporary solution, at best. That ’s why Wolfe geared his study to identify cover crops that can produce results in a single season. In the case of heat-loving sudangrass, it also may be possible to squeeze a spring or fall cash crop into the rotation while still growing the cover during summer.

Heavy equipment, frequent tillage and lack of organic matter contribute to compaction problems for vegetable growers in the Northeast, where frequent rains often force growers into the fields when soils are wet. Compacted soils slow root development, hinder nutrient uptake, stunt plants, delay maturity and can worsen pest and disease problems (451). For example, the Cornell researchers found that slow-growing cabbages direct-seeded into compacted soils were vulnerable to flea beetle infestations (450).

Brassica cover crops such as yellow mustard were solid challengers to sudangrass as a compaction reliever, but it was sometimes difficult to establish these crops in the test. We still have a lot to learn about how best to grow brassicas and fit them into rotations with vegetables,” Wolfe says.

Wolfe and his team assessed the cover crops’ effectiveness by measuring yields of subsequent crops and conducting a host of soil quality measurements, including infiltration rates, water-holding capacity, aggregate stability and organic matter levels.

For more information, contact David Wolfe, 607-255-7888; [email protected]

Updated in 2007 by Andy Clark

Crop Systems
There are several strategies for reducing nitrogen tie-up from residue:

Interplant a legume with the sorghum-sudangrass hybrid.
Plant a legume cover crop after the sorghum-sudangrass hybrid, in either late summer or the following spring.
Apply nitrogen fertilizer or some other N source at incorporation and leave the land fallow for a few months when soil is not frozen to allow decomposition of the residue.

If you kill the cover crop early enough in fall, the residue will partially break down before cold temperatures slow biological action (361). Where possible, use sorghum-sudangrass ahead of later planted crops to allow more time in spring for residue to decompose.

Planting sorghum-sudangrass every third year on New York potato and onion farms will rejuvenate soil, suppress weeds and may suppress soil pathogens and nematodes. Working a legume into the rotation will further build soil health and add nitrogen. Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids can provide needed soil structure benefits wherever intensive systems cause compaction and loss of soil organic matter reserves. See Summer Covers Relieve Compaction.

Grown as a summer cover crop that is cut once and then suppressed or killed, sorghum-sudangrass can reduce weeds in fall-planted alfalfa. Sorghum-sudangrass suppressed alfalfa root growth significantly in a Virginia greenhouse study (144), but no effect was observed on alfalfa germination when alfalfa was no-till planted into killed or living sorghum-sudangrass (145).

In Colorado, sorghum-sudangrass increased irrigated potato tuber quality and total marketable yield compared. It also increased nutrient uptake efficiency on the sandy, high pH soils. In this system, the sorghum-sudangrass is grown with limited irrigation, but with enough water so that the biomass could be harvested for hay or incorporated as green manure (112, 113).

In California, some table grape growers use sorghum-sudangrass to add organic matter and to reduce the reflection of light and heat from the soil, reducing sunburn to the grapes.

COMPARATIVE NOTES

Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids can produce more organic matter per acre, and at a lower seed cost, than any major cover crop grown in the U.S. Incorporated sorghum-sudangrass residue reduces N availability to young crops more than oat residue but less than wheat residue (389).

Cultivars. When comparing sorghum-sudangrass cultivars, consider traits such as biomass yield potential, tillering and regrowth ability, disease resistance, insect resistance (especially if greenbugs are a problem) and tolerance to iron deficiency chlorosis.

If you plan to graze the cover crop, select sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and related crops with lower levels of dhurrin, the compound responsible for prussic acid poisoning. For maximum weed control, choose types high in sorgoleone, the root exudate that suppresses weeds. Sterile cultivars are best where escapes could be a problem, especially where crossing with johnsongrass (Sorghum halpense) is possible.

Seed sources. See Seed Suppliers.

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Conventional forages sorghums when stressed will change from the vegetative stage of growth to the reproductive stage produce a flag leaf and attempt to produce a panicle. Under severe drought stress conditions this can occur at heights of two to three feet which results in silage of low yields and poor quality. Under the same conditions 4Ever Green will slow down its growth, roll its leaves, and wait for a rain. When rain occurs or the plant is irrigated the response is prompt. The plant continues its growth producing 20 plus large dark green leaves. This prompt response to moisture is due to 4Ever Green’s root system (similar to corn). ​​
The stalks of 4Ever Green will reach heights in excess of l2 feet and have 21 plus leaves per stalk. These leaves can reach 4 inches wide and 3 feet long. The high number of leaves produced result in a large plant in that each leaf produced emerges from the center of the plant. To produce this many leaves the stalk must be larger than most other forages. After the plant reaches four feet in height the plant is producing a new leaf every 3 l/2 days. Cut a conventional forage plant 3 to 4 foot off the ground and you have only pith in the center of the stalk. Make the same cut on a 4 Ever Green plant and you will be able to unroll leaf after leaf with the center of the stalk being a very small yellowish green leaf growing toward the top of the plant. There will be pith only on the lower portion of the plant – most of the plant will consist of rolled leaves. Harvest of plant should occur at 6 feet in height or 70 days whichever comes first. Use of a crimper is recommended. Cattle will eat the entire bale. When growing for hay or grazing whether drilled or planted broadcast we recommend no more than 35 pounds per acre.​

Pioneer​®​ brand products Super Sweet Sudan

australian-bred, unique hybrid. Super sweet, super growth

Pioneer® brand Super Sweet Sudan (SSS) is quick to graze and sustains multiple and intensive grazings.

SSS produces high-quality hay and round bale silage suitable for sheep and cattle.

This hybrid is a unique Australian product, bred for Australian conditions.

PRODUCT STRENGTHS

  • Wide area adaptation
  • Very fast growth and re-growth
  • Prolific tillering habit
  • Superfine stems
  • Super sweet and leafyHigh quality, very palatable hay at all stages of maturity and growth

RECOMMENDED PLANTING RATE

Marginal dryland: 2-5kg/ha

Favourable dryland: 6-12 kg/ha

Irrigation: 12-16 kg/ha

super sweet sudan (SSS) managEment comments

  • SSS is well-suited for dryland and intensive irrigation farming environments in Australia
  • This hybrid is quick to graze and sustains multiple and intensive grazing
  • Offers excellent wide-area adaptation
  • Grow more with less – high quality, smaller seed means you plant more hectares with less kilograms
  • See Super Sweet Sudan Growing Guide for more details

Pioneer​®​ Seeds Australia leads the local market in the development and supply of hybrid sorghum grass seed ​in Australia. Developed with leading genetics and backed by global research, our hybrid forage ​sorghum seed​ is not released ​for sale​ until we’re certain it will meet the high agronomic standards that customers expect with Pioneer​®​ brand products.

We strive to develop superior ​sorghum seed ​products at ​prices​ that represent a cost-effective investment and provide helpful crop management information to assist growers in making optimum profit from our ​sorghum seeds​. We also offer on-farm backup and technical support, so you can rest assured that Pioneer​®​ is with you every step of the way.

As with all our products, Pioneer​®​ brand products Super Sweet Sudan is bred for local conditions to deliver outstanding wide-area adaptation and enable you to grow more with less. If you are looking for high-performance ​sorghum Sudan grass seed​ or require advice about any aspect of growing sorghum, ​contact your local Pioneer​®​ representative​.

Emergency forages – Part 1: Sudangrass, sorghum and hybrids

Annual grasses are normally used as emergency forage. Emergency forage may be needed during a drought or after crop damage from other severe weather, such as flooding.

Summer annual grasses are used for summer pasture, green chop, hay and silage The most common annual grasses used in Michigan are sudangrass, hybrid sudangrass, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and forage sorghum. Desirable characteristics such as rapid growth, excellent drought resistance and good response to fertilizer and water make summer annual grasses attractive to use in an overall management scheme for forage production.
Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids produce about the same amount of feed as sudangrass when used for pasture. When used for green chopped forage, yields of sorghum-sudangrass hybrids usually exceed sudangrass or forage sorghum. Forage sorghums are best suited for silage. Making sorghum-sudangrass into hay is difficult because of the slow drying time.

Sudangrass and Brown Mid Rib (BMR) sudangrass

True sudangrasses have fine stems, tiller extensively when conditions permit and can regrow rapidly. Thus, they are more suited to pasturing than other types of sorghum and are more popular for annual hay and late summer pasture. Piper sudangrass is low in prussic acid content and has good drought and disease tolerance. It is a Wisconsin release that has good regrowth after pasturing and is the leading sudangrass hybrid. Brown Mid Rib sudangrass is more palatable and contains significantly less lignin, making it more digestible than normal sudangrass.

Hybrid sudangrass

Hybrid sudangrasses result from a cross among true sudangrass strains that are available primarily as commercial varieties. They are similar to true sudangrass varieties, but yield slightly more in a three-cut green chop or hay system. Research from the University of Wisconsin forage team reported yields from 3 to 5 tons per acre dry matter. It can be ready for harvest as early as 45 days after planting. Their prussic acid content is generally between that of true sudangrass and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids.

Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids

Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids are the most numerous of the various types of summer annual grasses. Most of these are available as commercial hybrids. They are high producing forage grasses, but more than 50 percent of their yield usually comes from their stems. Their rate of regrowth after repeated clippings or grazing is lower than that of sudangrass. Thus, animals graze or being fed sorghum-sudangrass hybrids sometimes result in less gain or milk production than those consuming other summer annuals, apparently due to lower energy content. When these hybrids are cut at immature stages, quality is higher, but yields are much lower.

Sorghum-sudangrass Brown Mid Rib

Brown Mid Rib increased digestibility of the stems by reducing the quantity of digestible lignin. Lignin content is reduced approximately 40-60 percent, depending upon environmental conditions. The reduction in lignin increases cellulose and hemicellulose content, both are more digestible than lignin. Since lignin is a structural component of the stem, its reduction stems are somewhat softer and more limber. Brown Mid Rib annual forage grasses should be planted at the same rate as Sorghum-sudangrass.

Forage sorghum

Forage sorghums are usually tall growing and mature late in the growing season. Often called “sweet sorghum,” forage sorghums often have sweet and juicy stems, and many have relatively small grain heads.
Forage sorghums usually yield more silage dry matter per acre than corn without irrigation. However, yields of total digestible nutrients per acre are usually lower from forage sorghums than from corn. Research from the University of Wisconsin forage team reported yields from 3 tons per acre in cool years to 11 tons per acre dry matter in years with above-average temperatures. Feeding value of sorghum silage is 80-90 percent that of comparable corn silage. Some long-season or non-flowering types will need to be killed by frost to dry down enough for ensiling.
Grazing forage sorghums is not recommended. They usually contain much higher levels of prussic acid than other summer annual grasses and can be dangerous to graze even when plants are completely headed, especially when young shoots are present. Forage sorghums can be cut for hay, although their stems dry very slowly after cutting.

Information on millets follows in Part 2, and utilizing summer annuals follows in Part 3.

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