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Seed millets, sudangrasses on prevented planting acresSeed millets, sudangrasses on prevented planting acres

Determine what you want to get from prevented planting acres to choose between millets or sudangrasses.

June 24, 2020

2 Min Read
A field of Pearl millet
GOOD FORAGE: Pearl millet is a good choice for haying or grazing because it regrows after it is cut, although its coarser stems make curing for baled hay more challenging. Yogesh_more/Getty Images

Do you know the difference between hay millets and pearl millet? Between forage sorghum and sorghum sudangrass?

All are good options for late planting on prevented planting acres. But there are specific fits for each.

Sara Bauder, South Dakota State University Extension agronomy field specialist, and Warren Rusche, SDSU Extension beef feedlot associate, describe the differences:

Hay millets

As the name implies, hay millets are best suited to be harvested as hay rather than grazed or cut for silage. The most popular hay millets are Foxtail, Proso, and Japanese millet. The plants have finer stems (especially Foxtail and Proso millet) and cure easier than other summer annuals.

Hay millets are quite drought-tolerant and can produce forage in as little as eight weeks after planting.

Pearl millet

Pearl millet offers more production potential than hay millets. Pearl millet has the ability to regrow, making it a better option for grazing or for multiple cuttings of hay at any growth stage.

However, pearl millet plants have coarser stems than hay millets, making curing for baled hay more challenging. Pearl millet doesn’t accumulate prussic acid, which means that cattle wouldn’t have to be temporarily removed because of an early frost.

Sudangrass and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids

Because of their thick stems, sudangrass and sorghum sudangrass hybrids are much better suited to be harvested as silage than as hay. These also work well as supplemental summer grazing.

Prussic acid can be a concern when grazed. The greatest risk for prussic acid poisoning occurs under drought conditions, when plants are damaged by frost or when livestock graze short regrowth.

To minimize risk, defer grazing until sudangrass is 18 to 20 inches tall and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids are 24 to 30 inches tall. Remove livestock for five to six days if these plants are damaged by a killing frost so that the plants can dry out and the prussic acid can dissipate.

Forage sorghum

Forage sorghum matures later than sudangrasses and has the more production potential. Forage sorghum is best suited for silage production.

Prussic acid can also be a concern in forage sorghum under similar conditions as sudangrass and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids.

Source: SDSU Extension Service, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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Prevented Planting
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