Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station ; 92
Title: Sorghum for silage and forage
Full Citation
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 Material Information
Title: Sorghum for silage and forage
Series Title: Bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Physical Description: p. 35-42, 1 leaf of plates : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Scott, John M ( John Marcus )
Publisher: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1908
Subject: Sorghum -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Sorghum -- Silage -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Sorghum as feed   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by John M. Scott.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00026447
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000921795
oclc - 18159658
notis - AEN2263

Full Text


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida



Agricultural Experiment Station,





The bulletins of this Station will be sent free to any address in
Florida upon application to the Director of the Experiment Station,
Gainesville, Fla.


MARCH, 1908.

Introduction ...................-......... ----- ------------ ---------------- ---- 37
Classification of Sorghums...-----..-..................--- .....------------------------. 37
Soil Adapted to Sorghum.................... --------------- -------------. 37
Silage in General-..............-. .........------............. ----------------- ---------- 38
Sorghum Silage...............---.----.------ -------------....-. 38
Sowing Sorghum.......--..-.........-- ----..... .....--- ------- --------------------- 39
Fertilizing -........................... --....-.. -- ----- ------- ----- 39
Cultivation ..............-...-...........--------.....- ....40
Sorghum Hay-----------...................------------------- 40
Pasturing Sorghum..-----......................... --------- -------- ------ ------- 41
G r a in ------ ------ -- ----- ------ ------ ------ ------ ----- ------ ------ ------ ------ ----- ------ ------ ------ ------ --- 41
Grain ................-.................--.....-........ ..------- 41
Yields in the Sorghum Variety Test, 1907 ....................... .......--- --.. ----- 42


1. Sorghum may be grown in all parts of Florida.

2. It is cultivated and fertilized in practically the same way as corn.

3. That the earlier varieties of sorghum produce ripe grain in ninety days
makes them very desirable for an early grain crop.

4. For large crops of grain and forage, late varieties should be planted.

5. Sorghum seems to be the best and most productive silage crop we have
in Florida.

6. One hundred pounds of sorghum grain (Kafir corn) are equal in feeding
value to eighty pounds of corn.



The sorghum crop has received too little attention from
our farmers. This is doubtless due to insufficient apprecia-
tion of the qualities of the grain produced by this plant, and
to the common cultivation of varieties of sorghum which are
not the best kinds for our climate. With the present rapid
improvement in stock, and with the greater demand for bet-
ter beef and for milk and butter, we are forced to search for
more productive and more nutritious forage crops than suf-
ficed in the past.
It is supposed that all the varieties of sorghum now in
cultivation originated from a single species, which was prob-
ably a native of Africa. The botanical differences which dis-
tinguish the various varieties are of almost no importance.
The sorghums may be divided into three classes: (1)
Saccharine sorghums, (2) non-saccharine sorghums, and (3)
broom-corns. The saccharine varieties are characterized by
their tall, leafy stems, which are full of sweet juice. The
non saccharine varieties, as a rule, do not grow tall, and the
stalks do not contain as much sugar. The broom-corns may
be distinguished by their dry, pithy stalks, and by their
long, loose seed-heads. The seed heads of the saccharine
and non-saccharine varieties differ in size, shape, and color.
The saccharine varieties are grown for syrup-making and for
forage. The non saccharine varieties are grown for either
forage or grain.
The sorghums grow well on almost any good land.
Ground that is well-suited for growing corn, cotton, or vegeta-
bles, will give good yields of sorghum, either forage or grain.
Neither heavy clays nor very light sandy soils are well-suited
for the crop.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.

It is a well established fact that some form of succulent
food is a desirable addition to the ordinary winter rations for
live stock, and the question arises as to the best and cheapest
method of producing it. In England the farmer depends
upon root crops, but in this country the raising of root crops
will not in all probability be extensively practiced. Some
have advocated the steaming of all feeds, but this method has
failed to solve the problem. The silo has been extensively
tried, and has been found to be the cheapest and also the
best method of curing feed and keeping it in a good, palata-
ble condition, so that it is relished by all classes of live stock.
The question which confronts the farmer is: What crop
can I raise most economically for the silo? This means:
What crop will produce most tons of good nutritious food per
acre? Cowpea hay is known to be an excellent forage, but
the yield is small; moreover it does not make a good quality
of silage. The same is true with oats, rye, or beggarweed
hay. It comes then to the question of deciding between corn
and sorghum. Analysis shows sorghum silage to be a little
richer in total digestible nutrients than corn silage. Sor-
ghum has also a heavier yield of green forage per acre than
corn. If then, sorghum produces silage richer in total
digestible nutrients, and also gives a larger yield of green
forage per acre, it has two important points in its favor. It
is not only the best crop for the silo, but also the cheapest.
The cost of cultivating an acre of ground is the same re-
gardless of the yield; that is, the time and labor required to
produce an acre of corn will be the same, whether two tons
or ten tons of forage are produced per acre; but the cost of
production per ton will be reduced as the yield per acre is
increased. For example, if it costs $10 to fertilize and culti-
vate one acre that produces only four tons of forage, the cost
per ton will be $2.50; but if for the same expenditure of
money we can produce some other crop that will yield from
twelve to fifteen tons per acre, then the cost per ton will be
reduced by nearly 60 to 75 per cent.

Bulletin No. 92.


Sorghum seed may be sown at any time from April 1 to
July 20. When possible, it is advisable to sow early (from
April 1 to April 15), as then the first cutting can be harvested
in July, and with favorable conditions, another good crop
may be harvested in October.
The quantity of seed required depends upon the method
of sowing, whether in drills or broadcast. If sown in drills,
20 to 30 pounds of seed will be required per acre. If sown
broadcast, more seed will be needed, varying from one to two
bushels per acre. It is likely that if sown in rows, a distance
of three or three and a half feet between the rows, and from
two to three inches between the plants in the drill, will be
found the most satisfactory. This distance will permit of
cultivation being carried on, which will insure larger yields,
and the cost of harvesting is also reduced.
Fig. 1 shows a drill that may be used for planting sor-
ghum, corn, cotton, or velvet beans. The depth of planting
will depend upon the conditions of the seed-bed at the time.
If the seed-bed is well prepared, and there is plenty of mois-
ture in the ground, then a half inch to one inch is as deep as
the seed should be covered. But if the soil is very dry and
loose the seed may be planted as deep as from one and a half
to two and a half inches.


Sorghum is a gross feeder, hence it requires a large
quantity of fertilizer. The amount, however, will vary with
the quality of the soil. From 400 to 800 pounds of fertilizer
Ammonia --...........-------......... ------ --....... ---.... -.... 4 per cent.
Available phosphoric acid..........-------..... 6. per cent.
Potash ... --....---...----...... ....-..-.......-............. 6 per cent.
should be used. The ground should be thoroughly prepared,
and the fertilizer should be applied a week or ten days before
sowing the seed.
After the crop is harvested, with a small plow throw a
shallow furrow away from the sorghum stubs: apply the fer-

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.

tilizer in this furrow, and then cover it by throwing the fur-
row back again.
If sorghum is planted after a crop of vegetables has been
taken off the ground, fertilizing will not be necessary, as
there will be enough fertilizer left in the soil to produce a
good crop of sorghum.


Too much attention cannot be given to the preparation of
the seed-bed, and to the cultivation of the growing crop. If
the seed-bed is not thoroughly prepared, the result will be
poor germination, which means poor stand, perhaps not more
than half a stand. A poor stand means a small yield of for-
age per acre. Where the seed-bed is thoroughly prepared,
cultivation ean begin much sooner, as the young plants will
not be so easily covered or pulled out during the first culti-
vation, while they are quite small. This early cultivation
will not only keep down weeds, but the stirring of the soil
will also tend to hasten the growth of the crop. Sorghum is
a slow-growing crop at first, hence the earlier its cultivation
begins, the more will the growth of the crop be hastened.
The two-horse cultivator shown in Fig. 2 should be used
for cultivation. With this implement one man or boy, and
two mules, will cultivate more than twice the area, and the
soil will be left in much better condition, than when the old-
fashioned one-horse plow or sweep is used. This means that
the labor of cultivation will be reduced one-half. In other
words, with the use of improved machinery the farmer will
be able to double the area he is now cultivating; which will
mean that he will raise double the amount of feed, and so can
keep twice as much live stock as he is now keeping. Thus
his gross income per year will be largely increased.


Aside from being a good crop for silage, well cured sor-
ghum makes an excellent hay crop. As hay, the saccharine
varieties perhaps make a better quality of forage; but even the
non-saccharine varieties are almost equal to crabgrass hay in

FIG. 1.

FIG. 2.



Bulletin No. 92.

feeding value, and give a much larger yield. In fact, from
one acre of sorghum hay we get nearly double the amount of
feed that we do from the same area of crabgrass. Sorghum
hay, when fed with bran and cottonseed meal, will be found
to give good results in the dairy. In fattening cattle for the
market, sorghum hay supplied in addition to the grain feed
will give good results.
Sorghums make a good pasture for all classes of live
stock. Perhaps the saccharine varieties will be found to
give the best results. For pasturing, the seed should be
sown a little thicker than usual, about one and a half bushels
per acre. The ground should be well prepared beforehand.
Pasturing may begin when the plants are only a few inches
high; but, for the best results, the crop should not be pastured
until the sorghum is about one and a half or two feet in
height. It has been estimated that one acre of good sor-
ghum will pasture ten head of cattle for ten days. If not
pastured too closely before the cattle are removed, a second
growth can be secured, which will furnish additional pas-


Tests by various Experiment Stations have shown that
the grain of the non-saccharine varieties of sorghum is of
considerable importance as a feed. The seeds of the sor-
ghums are very rich in carbohydrates (fat-producing ma-
terial), but are low in protein. This, however, is not a serious
drawback for Florida, as we have an abundance of feed rich
in protein; such as cottonseed meal, or velvet beans. Either
of these fed in combination with sorghum seed will give good
results for either milk or beef production.
Comparing the feeding value of Kafir corn (one of the
non-saccharine varieties of sorghum) with that of corn, we
find that 100 pounds of Kafir corn are equal to 80 pounds of
corn in feeding value. In other words, when corn is worth
$1.50 per hundred, Kafir corn is worth about $1.20 per hun-
dred for feeding.

42 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.

There seem to be no data regarding the yields per acre
from the non-saccharine varieties in Florida. Nearly all Ex-
periment Stations which report such yields give them as be-
ing larger than those of corn.
These figures are the results of only one year's test, and
should therefore be taken only as indicating roughly what
the yields may be.
Yield Yield
er acre of per acre of
NAME OF VARIETY green grain in the
head, in
age, in tons. in
age, pounds.

Red Kafir Corn .. .---.. .. ..-- ..--.....----..----- 3 968 1,187.50
Sirak .-..-...................... ..-...-- --..-- ....-... 10.225 1,050.00
Honey ----... ......... --------.....--..--......--- ...-- 6.281 562 50
Sapling ---......--- ..--...--..----.. ..---.. ---..---- 5.900 550 00
Brown Durra .....----.........-.. -------- 5 350 450.00
Minnesota Amber...--.--..--..-.~....----........... 8 612 975.00
Planter's Friend, No. 36 -..--...--..---.....----- 13 068 787.00
Orange....--..---..--.........-..--- .......-- ... ---- 13.813 1,366.50
Gooseneck, Erect ..-...-- .--...----..-- ...----- 16.907 793.00
Planter's Friend, No. 37 ..---.... ----. 16.318 887.50
Amber ...........-----....----------. .. ..-.... --... 10.461 1,033 50
Sum ac ....... ....... .. ..... ..... ... 12.449 429.50
Shallu.--...--- .-- --....... -.. ...-..-.-.. ..-..------- .. 11.556 2,112 50
White Kafir .....--...-------------------........-.. 8.153 727.00
Gooseneck, Pendant......-......-- ---......... 19.0, 6 856 25
Collier--...- ....-.-.... ---- --.- ...---- -.. ...- ... 13 896 742.50
Red Amber ....-....--....-......... ..--- .... 12.283 1,500.00
Cigne ........... ...-- ~~-......... --..... .... 12.450 900.00
Jerusalem Corn ----........... .~..-...... 8.204 458.00
Yellow Milo ..---........--- ..--------..... 9 487 900 00

The seeds employed in this test were obtained from R.
Carleton Ball, Sorghum specialist of the U. S. Department of

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