Title: Sorghum, sorgo and millet tests in the Everglades area.
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Title: Sorghum, sorgo and millet tests in the Everglades area.
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Green, Victor E. Jr.
Publisher: Everglades Research Station, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Belle Glade, Fla.
Publication Date: April 1, 1958
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General Note: Everglades Station Mimeo report 58-12
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Bibliographic ID: UF00076915
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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SORGHUM, SORGO AND MILLET TESTS
IN THE EVERGLADES AREA 1957

by

Victor E. Green, Jr.


*** *********************


This report contains results of research
with varieties of sorghum, sorgo and millet on
organic soils of south Florida. The work is a
part of State Project 662. Seed were furnished
by the Taylor-Evans Seed Company of Tulia, Texas.


April 1, 1958

Everglades Station Mimeo Report 58-12


Belle Glade, Florida






SORGBUM, SORGO AND MILLET TESTS
IN THE EVERGLADES AREA 1957

by

Victor E. Green, Jr.I


A variety experiment was planted on February 18, 1957 in the west end of
Field 3 NW on land that had been previously in cultivation about 30 years, and
in corn every year for the past 15 years. The soil was treated with 600 pounds
per acre of 0-15-5 fertilizer, plus 0.3% B203, to raise the fertility to a level
previously established as necessary for maxiimm production of Big Joe field corn
at 14,520 plants per acre. Five pounds of active aldrin (20 lbs. of 25% wettable)
per acre were added in the fertilizer and disked in immediately for wireworm con-
trol. E-.ch plot consisted of three rows 25 feet long and three feet apart. Seed
were drilled by hand about every one-half inch in the row. Cutworms and budworms
were controlled by one application of one pound of 25% DDT emulsion in 100 gallons
of water per acre and two applications of 21 pounds of 40% wettable toxaphene in
100 gallons of water per acre before lay-by time.

The center row in each plot was cut below the seed head, the heads were
threshed in a Vogel thresher, and the grain was weighed and sampled for moisture.
Samples of another row were harvested three inches above the soil, run through
a forage chopper, dried at 700 C, and analyzed for protein content. The data
derived from these tests are shown in Table 1. Where blackbird damage exceeded
30%, yields were not recorded.

Early Fortune and White Proso Millets from South Dakota headed when 2 to
12 inches in height when planted in mid-February at Belle Glade.

Table 2 is a summary table showing the average forage yield, grain yield,
plant protein content, plant dry matter content, days to heading, height to base
of heads and production of hay per acre from sorghum, sorgo and millet. The data
show that excellent yields of forage and grain are possible from these crops.

One of the most serious problems that confronts the grower of sorghum is
damage from blackbirds, redwings, and rice birds. Such damage can be minimized
by cutting entire plants in the late milk or soft dough stage and making silage
from the material. If the grain only is desired, it should be harvested when
the moisture content is about 25% and the grain should be dried to about 13% by
artificial methods.

Insect damage to the grain can be minimized by ensiling the heads or the
entire plants. Grain insects are not very destructive in silage stacks.

Depending on a regrowth of the plants for additional forage is risky. More
success can be obtained by reseeding. The crop can be harvested at any time
after about 8 weeks growth and the land reseeded to the same variety. This method
will permit the harvest of forage with even the light weight, underpowered machine:
available on the market. Out of 37 varieties of sorghum, sorgo, millet and sudan-
grass, successful regrowth on hand-cut plots with no vehicle traffic was obtained
only from Atlas Sorgo and Sumac 1712 Sorgo. Fair regrowth was exhibited from


17 Associate Agronomist, Everglades Experiment Station, University of Florida
Agricultural Experiment Stations, Belle Glade. The writer wishes to acknow-
ledge the assistance of Mr. R. M. Fliebs, Mr. C. D. Hickman and Mr. D. D. Nehlr
Field Assistants for aid in the conduct of the experiments reported herein.








Starr Millet and Sorghum almum. Under conditions of commercial production it
is doubtful whether these varieties could have given good regrowth.

The 1957 tests showed that excellent yields of grain could be obtained from
a number of the Texas Hybrids and Combine types. On varieties not devastated
by birds, it can be expected that a ton of dry matter can be expected from each
foot of growth to the base of the seed head. Permitting the plants of the
sorghum genus to mature resulted in material averaging about 27% dry matter
(73% moisture) and about 8% protein on the dry basis. Starr Millet averaged
about 21% dry matter (79% moisture) and about 10% protein on the dry basis. Had
the material been harvested young at the time which protein content was the high-
est, the moisture content would have been much higher. Data will be collected
in 1958 to determine the magnitude of protein percentages of sorghum and millet
at 9, 12 and 15 weeks of growth.

Adequate supplies of sorghum or sorgo silage could have prevented the wide-
spread losses of cattle in the winter of 1957-1958, and could have reduced the
need for the purchase of large quantities of hay and grain and mixed feed.

Cattle have gained two to three pounds per head per day in zero degree
weather when fed a balanced ration in the north. Such cattle do not succumb to
pneumonia as did thousands of Florida animals who were malnourished.


TYPES OF SORGHUM

The sorghums of the U. S. A. may be divided into three natural classes:

(1) Sorgo saccharine sorghum
(2) Grain Sorghum non-saccharine sorghum
(3) Broom Corn

There are various grain sorghum groups:

(1) Kafir
(2) Milo
(3) Durra
(4) Kaoliang
(5) Shallu
(6) Hegari

There are agronomic varieties of each of these groups that can be divided
further into:

(1) Hybrids
(2) Open-pollinated
(3) Combine (short) Types

The sorgo, or sweet sorghum have small seed heads and are too tall to
cut economically for grain. They are used for syrup, silage and hay making.
These varieties also are good for fresh chop feeding.

Sudangrass, Johnsongrass and Columbusgrass (Sorghum e.lmum) are close re-
latives to those groups mentioned above.











Table 1. Results of 1957 Variety Test, Belle Glade, Florida


Days Height to Protein Content Grain Yield Forage
to Base of Heads, Entire Stalk, Per Acre Yield, Yield,
Planted February 18, 1957 Heading Feet Dry Basis @ 15.0% H20, Green Wt. Dry Dry Wt. @
% Lbs. Tons Matter 10%, Tons


Hybrid Grain Sorghum


Texas
Texas
Texas
Texas
Texas
Texas
Texas


590
601
610
611
620
650
660


Open Pollinated Grain Sorghum

. Early Hegari
9. Regular Hegari
). Standard Blackhull Kafir
i. Haas Hegari

Combine Grain Sorghum


12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.


Plainsman
Redbine 60
Redbine 66
Combine 7078
Westland
DD Yellow Sooner
Martin


3.5
4.8
4.3
5.0
5.0
4.5
4.8


4.3
4.3
5.5
4.3


4.0
4.5
4.3
3.0
3.3
3.5
4.8


7.70
7.61
7.88
8.75
8.58
8.14
6.91


7.53
6.30
8.02
8.49



8.75
6.39
9.63
8.91
8.40
8.58
6.91


*

6200
5800
*6

*


*
*
2300
*


5300
5500
*
4600
5100
4500
6000


10.2
9.7
12.8
16.6
15.1
13.8
15.3


8.9
8.2
16.1
9.6


12.2
14.0
12.8
8.5
10.6
10.8
13.3


26.53
32.31
27.81
27.34
27.58
32.14
19.34


25.97
28.20
25.62
28.69


28.37
26.87
29.35
29.76
29.28
29.65
28.04


3.0
3.6
4.0
5.1
4.6
5.0
3.3


2.6
2.6
4.6
3.1


3.9
4.3
4.2
2.9
3.5
3.6
4.2


11
1]
C









Table 1 (continued)


Days Height to Protein Content Grain Yield Forage
to Base of Heads, Entire Stalk, Per Acre Yield 9 Yield
Planted February 18, 1957 Heading Feet Dry Basis @ 15.0% H20, Green Wt. Dry Dry Wt. @
% Lbs. Tons Matter 10%, Tons


Sweet Sorghum (Sorgo)


19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.


Atlas Sorgo
Sumac 1712
Kansas Orange
Leoti Red
Sugar Drip
African Millet see 32, 33
Black Amber
Honey Sorgo
Tracy Sorgo
Sart Sorgo
Sumac 6550
Kafir 60
Medium Dwarf Sumac


6.5
7.0
6.3
7.0
8.0
6.8
5.8
6.8
6.8
6.5
7.0
4.5
6.3


6.o4
8.40
8.91
7.09
8.95
7.44
6.13
6.56
5.86
8.40
6.30
8.14
8.40


*
1700
3600
3000
1300
1200
4500
1700
*
4600
5200
5100
6200


17.3
22.7
19.9
15.2
27.3
22.9
7.6
28.2
18.2
12.4
25.2
14.2
21.6


29.34
27.64
22.50
22.22
19.66
21.60
31.60
17.75
24.82
22.50
21.20
24.22
25.94


5.7
7.0
5.2
3.9
6.1
5.5
2.6
5.7
5.1
3.1
5.9
3.9
6.3


Millet


32. German Millet, Strain R
33. Starr Millet, Cattail


2.8
4.8


Sudangrass


34. Sweet Sudan
35. Greenleaf Sudan
36. Common Sudan
37. Perennial Sudan (Columbus-
grass) or Sorghum abm
* Yields were not recorded where
Harvested June 10, 1957.


5.0
4.8
5.3


59 6.o
bird damage exceeded 30%


9.89



9.45
8.58
7.96

6 .Q1


8.6
18.6


11.4
10.6
6.1
13


20.90



24.20
18.20
35.82
31 cr,


6 -- .aJ* .IV


4.4


3.1
2.2
2.4
h Q












Table 2. Summary Table for Characteristics of orghum and Millet
Grown at Belle l..wde, Florida, 1957.-J


Group


Texas Hybrids

Open Pollinated

Combine

Sorgos

Millets

Sudan Grass


Days to
Heading
Days

68

64

68

75

59

66


Height to
Panicle
Ft.

4.6

4.6

3.9

6.6

3.8

5.3


Yield per Acre
Green Wt. Hay @ 10% Grain
Tons Tons Lbs.

13.4 4.1 5700

10.7 3.2 2300

11.7 3.8 5200

19.4 5.1 3500

18.6 4.4 --

10.5 3.1


ForP- TNta
Dry Matter ProteinDry


27.8 7.9

27.1 7.6

28.8 8.2

23.9 7.2

20.9 9.9

27.4 8.2


1/ Planted February 18, 1957
Harvested June 10, 1957


EES 58-12, 350 copie.


Varieties


I I


*








RECENT ADVANCES IN SORGHUM IMPROVEMENT


The latest and most complete treatise on sorghum improvement was prepared
by Quinby and Martin (1954). They stated that the value of sorghum as a world
crop is due largely to its ability to grow where there is a frost-free period
of 120 or more days and on arable soil that will support the growth of any field
crop. Sorghum was found to thrive on soils ranging from light sandy soils to
heavy clays with pH values from 4.5 to 8.5.

The main differences in sorghum varieties during the past 15 years has been
that the stalks are two feet shorter. This has made possible the use of combines
in the harvesting operation, reducing the labor requirement to only one-eighth
that required by the binder-thresher method. Other changes include: 1) expansion
of production into colder, higher areas having short growing seasons, 2) new
industrial uses, 3) new disease-resistant varieties, 4) sorgos having palatable
seed, 5) sorgos low in prussic acid, 6) artificial drying of combined grain, and
7) growing sorghum in narrow rows.

The methods used to gain these advances are reminiscent of the corn improve-
ment program in Mexico and Central America. They were put into effect without
any special promotional organization. Only a minimum of regional uniform yield
trials were conducted. Breeding plans remained flexible to avoid stagnation
resulting from conformity to prevalent belief. Individual imagination was used
in the breeding program to prevent disaster from diseases that can rapidly build
up on varieties evolved from a narrow gene base. Exchanges of materials and
foreign introductions helped prevent the selection of too many inbreds from too
few varieties.

Of special importance to tropical and sub-tropical agriculture is the
advance made in the improvement of Sudan grass. Sorgo crossed with Sudan grass
has resulted in Juicier, sweeter stalks, lower in prussic acid, and disease-
resistant varieties that have good re-growth after harvest.

Quinby and Martin pointed out also that when sorghum is grown for silage,
the highest yielding variety may not be preferred, even when it is to be cut
with a field silage cutter. At a meeting of sorghum research workers in Manhattan.
Kansas in the spring of 1926, during the discussion of a new machine to harvest
sorghum, an agricultural engineer there suggested that it would be easier for the
breeders to develop the crop to fit existing machines. This idea still prevails
as evidenced by the underpowered machines still on the market. Most of them con-
sist of light construction embodying little more than sickle-bar mowers, hammer
mills and either reels or conveyors to propel the forage to the cutting surfaces.
It is no wonder that the three-foot high meadows have evolved with the low tonn-
ages per acre, while the harvest of tropical grasses, sorgos, and sugarcane re-
mains a hand operation.

The release of Tracy sorgo was not made at Chillicothe, Texas, where it
originated, because no farmer was able to cut the large tonnage of growth except
by hand. It was reselected at Meridian, Mississippi and released as a syrup
sorgo, the economics of which permit the cutting, topping and stripping by hand.
Its sister variety, Sart, has similar growth characteristics. It has been known
to grow 15 feet tall and yield 60 tons per acre of green matter in a single grow-
ing season when only one cutting was made. Until advances in machinery match the
advances in agronomy, the following scheme in wide use in the state of Louisiana




-4-


should prove helpful to those trying to obtain maximum forage on a minimum of
land. As soon as the danger of frost is passed, the soil is fertilized according
to test results from the laboratory and sorgo seed are planted, preferably in
rows so that cultivation may be accomplished. Control of wireworms, cutworms,
and budworms are identical to that used on corn. After about six weeks the
stalks are harvested and preserved. The soil is disked, if necessary, fertilized
again and new seed are planted. This cycle continues until danger of frost.
Then the land is again prepared, fertilized, and planted to oats which are
harvested as often as good management dictates during the winter. Each spring,
the entire cycle is repeated. This system has resulted in the production of up
to 80 tons of green matter per acre per year, while yields of 60 tons per acre
per year are not uncommon. Such early cutting produces lush, palatable forage
low in fiber and high in protein. The color of such forage is good as leaf
diseases usually begin later on most varieties. Lodging is seldom a problem
after only six weeks of growth. This scheme results in animal feed that is not
subject to stored grain insect and bird depredations.

Quinby and Martin pointed out that one of the newer sorghum industries
concerns the growth of sweet sorgo for dehydration and manufacture of leaf meal,
high in sugar content, as an ingredient in mixed feeds.

With the advent of hybrid sorghums, there should never again be a shortage
of feed in the United States. Droughty and sub-marginal soils usually will grow
a fair crop of sorghum. The breeding programs have solved many of the problems
experienced in areas of production and have extended production into areas where
the crop had not been successfully produced. For moist climates, varieties are
now on the market that have a good exsertion of the panicles and sprangly heads.
These characteristics are necessary to prevent molding of the grain in the field.
The hybrids have better seedling vigor to aid in early establishment of the stand.
The length of culms has been reduced while simultaneously the yield per plant has
been greatly increased. Yields of 3 m. tons per acre have been received recently
on a commercial scale during good growing seasons. That is equivalent to better
than a 120 bushel per acre corn crop, obtained in an area where maize cannot be
grown successfully in most years.

Some degree of success has been attained in breeding varieties of sorghum
that are resistant to birds that damage the grain duriiig the milk stage and dough
stage. The grain of a few varieties tastes bitter until it is ripe, when it is
promptly harvested.

Most of the problems of hybrid sorghum production have been worked out using
male-sterile techniques and the formation of three-way crosses. Often the farmer
buys white hybrid seed, and he grows from these, red second generation seed.
This should cause no concern if the farmer is told what to c:cpect when he purchases
the seed. This technique should prove useful in preventing the sale of second
generation seed and seed that are merely open-pollinated.

The chief contribution that could be made in producing hybrid sorgo would
be to release disease-resistant varieties with seedling vigor, high in protein,
with resistance to lodging, and with sweet, juicy stalks low in prussic acid.



Quinby, J..R. and J. H. Martin. 1954. Sorghum Improvement. In Advances in
Agronomy, Volume 6, pp 305-360. Academic Press, Inc., New York.




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