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LOW INPUT, HIGH OUTPUT. Forage sorghum provides

dairies with a low-input, high production forage option without sacrificing nutrition. Bottom photo courtesy of Justin Damron.

Damron is expecting good yields from the Sorghum

Partners Integra 1990 he planted this year. Te large live- stock feed demand in his area makes for a great market with the majority of his crop this year going to a local dairy. Carson Ward of Gayland Ward Seed in Hereford, Tex-

as, says forage sorghum allows growers to have fewer in- put costs per acre while producing equal or more energy per acre. “Forage sorghums are forgiving, which gives you some

flexibility,” Ward said. Tat flexibility makes the crop a good fit for the oſten unforgiving conditions where High Plains dairies are located. You don’t have to be on the High Plains to appreciate forage sorghum’s water-use efficiency. Fourth generation Alabama dairyman, Will Gilmer of Gilmer Dairy LLC, has made forage sorghum a mainstay in his operation. “Over the past four years, we have made BMR hybrids

an intentional part of our forage program,” Gilmer said. His dairy planted Forage First/Croplan BMR varieties for the past four years, initially using a shorter-season vari- ety, but transitioning this year to a longer season, BMR-6 brachytic dwarf variety. Over the years, Gilmer Dairy has used sorghum to

replace corn silage in their operation to hedge against drought-diminished corn yields on their 100 percent dryland farm. Sorghum’s later planting date also allowed them to grow a cool season small grain silage crop on the same acreage. In a normal year, Gilmer averages 13 to 14 tons of silage per acre (averaging 0.75 percent moisture) on 75 to 85 acres. He utilizes strip-tilling and injecting liquid nitrogen fertilizer pre-planting has returned the highest, most consistent yields. Gilmer said he chops all of the sorghum he grows for

silage, which is fed to his 235-head dairy operation in Lamar County, Ala. Te high moisture sorghum silage is mixed with bermudagrass hay and a custom formulated feed in their milking herd’s total mixed ration. “We obviously have to adjust our custom feed formu-

lation when we switch our cows from corn to sorghum silage, but we have seen very little change in their milk production between the two,” he said.

14 SORGHUM Grower Fall 2014

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