Why Plant Forage Sorghum?

Forage sorghum is a viable complement to or replacement for corn silage, yes, we said it, replacement for corn silage! Read on to see how forage sorghum could fit in your operation.

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         Forage sorghum is designed to be a good fit in areas with historically low corn silage yields and is available in maturities ranging from 85 to 108 days (approximate) from emergence to soft dough. Forage sorghum will benefit producers most if they can harvest the forage standing, like corn silage, saving time and money by eliminating the swathing process. When forage sorghum is intended to be harvested standing, variety selection is important. Various sorghums are better suited for different geographies and management styles.

Advantages of planting forage sorghum for silage:

  • Forage sorghum will generally be higher yielding than corn silage in drier and tougher conditions. In better fields or conditions, corn silage will likely have a 10- to 15-percent yield advantage, but can have higher input costs (see the next points!)
  • Forage sorghum requires 33% less water than corn. Helpful on sandy ground, right?
  • Forage sorghum seeding rates are quite low— 6 to 9 pounds/acre—reducing seed costs to around $16 per acre.
  • Forage sorghum at soft dough will have low starch but high sugars and NDFd. This gives forage sorghum a high starch equivalent on a forage test closer to corn silage.
  • Forage sorghum is flexible for harvest, which can be important with variability in weather throughout the season. It can be cut and wilted for harvest if needs or conditions warrant earlier harvest.
  • Forage sorghum requires less nitrogen than corn. Nitrogen should not exceed 110 pounds actual N, including soil-available nitrogen.
  • Energy will increase with forage sorghum heading because of continued sugar formation in the stalks and leaves, not to mention the additional carbohydrate deposition in the grain.

What do you think?