Drought tolerant feed options this summer

Drought tolerant feed options this summer

1 October 2021

Farmers in warmer parts of the country understand a few weeks of fine weather can spell the start of a drought. With the variability of summer rainfall over the last few seasons farmers have been relying on summer feed options that can produce more dry matter (DM) from every millimeter (mm) of rainfall.

One of the major challenges to establishing crops when leading into summer is the potential lack of moisture in the seed zone coupled with hot temperatures at the soil surface. Greenfeed maize and forage sorghum or sudan grass are great November/December options when faced with this challenge as they have a larger seed than chicory or brassicas, meaning they can be drilled deeper into the soil profile where there is moisture for germination.

These high yielding and drought tolerant options deliver great yields of moderate quality feed quickly. They are also excellent options if you know you are going to be short on grass silage, worried about your FEI value, or have struggled to establish a summer crop.

Greenfeed maize Maize is best known for its use as silage, but due to its flexibility it can also be a very valuable greenfeed crop.

Forage King is a great option for early summer feed. The feed value for greenfeed maize is in the range of 10.3-10.8 megajoules of metabolisable energy per kilogram of DM (MJME/kgDM), with higher energy levels being achieved as the grain content increases.

Crops can be break fed or chopped using a maize harvester or a flail-type mower. Feeding behind an electric wire reduces crop wastage from trampling. As it contains a mix of hybrid maturities, Forage King is not suitable for maize silage.

Forage Sorghum X Sudan Grass Hybrids

An excellent option for summer feed in warmer districts.

Because of their rapid growth, crops can be first grazed or harvested (at 80-100cm in height) as little as 35-45 days after planting, with further regular grazings afterwards. If the feed is not required, it can be harvested as silage or hay and stored for later feeding.

Pioneer® brand Bettagraze is a proven forage sorghum x sudan grass hybrid with a high sugar content, fine stems and a high leaf-to-stem ratio for excellent palatability and good feed value.

Pioneer® brand SSS is a sudan x sudan grass hybrid which provides finer, leafy stems and excellent regrowth potential.

It is recommended that farmers test forage sorghum x sudan grass for nitrate and/or prussic acid levels prior to feeding or ensiling. If the levels are high, contact your local vet or animal nutritionist for feed management advice.

For more information on the best summer crop options, contact your local Farm Source representative.

Article supplied by Pioneer Brand Products.