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AgriLife Extension forage sorghum hybrid trial has special purpose

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By: Kay Ledbetter

Data to be used for farm bill loan deficiency program

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608, [email protected]
Contact: Dr. Jourdan Bell, 806-677-5600, [email protected]

AMARILLO – More than 100 forage sorghum hybrids from 13 commercial companies across the U.S. growing in a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service production trial have a unique role to play, according to an AgriLife Extension specialist.

The Texas Panhandle Forage Sorghum Silage Trials will be utilized for farm program purposes. (Texas A&M AgriLife Communications photo by Kay Ledbetter)

In addition to forage yield and quality, the field trial on the Michael Menke farm east of Bushland will help evaluate the eligibility of sorghum varieties for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency management assistance loans and loan deficiency payments based on grain yield and forage type, said Dr. Jourdan Bell, AgriLife Extension agronomist in Amarillo.

The Texas Panhandle Forage Sorghum Silage Trial conducted at Bushland historically has been used by the Farm Service Agency, or FSA, to update grain sorghum eligibility tables.

“This is the second year we’ve had this trial with Mr. Menke, which has allowed us to evaluate the hybrids under center pivot irrigation and managed for maximum production,” Bell said. “We have 100 different hybrids, and there are three replications of each, so it’s definitely a very big trial.”

 

Dr. Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist in Amarillo, discusses forage sorghums during a recent field day. (Texas A&M AgriLife Communications photo by Kay Ledbetter)

“Last year grain yields were not collected from the trial, but they will be this year if requested by the company in order to update existing eligibility tables,” she said.

FSA characterizes sorghum in five classes: dual purpose having a yield potential equal to 100 percent of a hybrid grain variety; dual purpose having a yield potential equal to 80 percent of a hybrid grain variety; sterile; photoperiod sensitive and ineligible varieties.

Forage-only varieties are not eligible for loans, only loan deficiency payments, unlike dual-purpose varieties that are eligible for both, Bell said. Sorghum varieties are further categorized to determine their eligibility according to tannin or non-tannin and grazing or grain use.

Bell said the trial at Bushland also includes three varieties planted at different populations. The population for the larger trial was 100,000 seeds per acre, based on longtime research data. But the three selected varieties were also planted at 75,000 seeds per acre in order to evaluate performance and lodging at a lower population.

Producers check out the forage sorghum hybrids from 13 commercial companies growing in a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service production trial near Bushland. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Jourdan Bell)

“Based on previous data, 100,000 seeds per acre is a good planting rate to optimize production, especially under irrigation, but there is the potential to enhance lodging with certain varieties. We realize that this is not a recommended population for many varieties, but we are trying to maximize production,” she said.

Bell said the trial has only received about 4.5 inches of irrigation this year due to the rain received from May through July. The field received 12.4 inches of rain since planting on June 24, but there has been 25 inches of rain since May 1. That was one reason for the late planting date – the field was under water much of the time until late June.

“We’ve had really good weather pushing this sorghum along,” she said.

But on the down side, Bell said the trial has been hit by sugarcane aphids and has been treated once.

Harvest is underway, but it will continue through next month as every hybrid is harvested for silage when it reaches soft dough, she said.

“With the forage sorghum silage, it is critical that we optimize harvest time for quality. Silage pit management and end-use quality is strongly affected by harvest stage,” Bell said.

“If the silage is harvested prior to soft dough without additional drying, increased moisture contents can result in amplified butyric acid levels in the silage pit, which reduces palatability. When harvest is delayed to hard dough, moisture is often less than 60 percent, which results in poorly packed silage pits and poor fermentation.”

She said with all the dairies, the forage sorghum silages are a great fit for this region because they can be produced with about half the water as corn silage.

“One of the things we have seen is quality varies among varieties. There are some brown mid-rib varieties that are very good and some that aren’t, the same with non-BMR varieties. That’s why this field trial is something really great to see and have everything in the same location to look at.”

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Farm & Ranch

Mammals and Avian Influenza

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By Barry Whitworth, DVM

At the writing of this article, High Path Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 has been detected in more than 83 million domestic poultry in the United States. The outbreak includes commercial and backyard flocks.

Most people are aware that poultry may succumb to Avian Influenza but may not know that other animals can be infected with the virus. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a variety of mammals have been infected with Avian Influenza H5N1 in the U.S.

The list of more than 200 mammals includes bears, foxes, skunks, coyotes, etc. Even marine animals such as dolphins and seals have been found with the virus. Current Avian Influenza H5N1 infections in poultry, mammals, and livestock in the U.S. can be found at the Detections of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza website at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/livestock-poultry-disease/avian/avian-influenza/hpai-detections.

Recently, ruminants have been diagnosed with Avian Influenza H5N1 in the U.S. The World Organization for Animal Health reported that neonatal goats displaying neurological clinical signs and death were positive for Avian Influenza.

To read more, pick up a copy of the May issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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Farm & Ranch

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

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By Rayford Pullen | [email protected]

When May arrives, we start thinking about weed control. With two years of drought under our belts, grass grazed short and hay stocks depleted, what we do now will influence our forage conditions for the entire year. With 75 percent of our annual warm season forages made by July 15 in North Texas, we need to get the grass growing while the sun shines.

Speaking of the sun shining, the biggest deterrent to growing lots of grass is restricted sunlight, and the biggest sun blockers we have are weeds.

Have you noticed weeds are normally just slightly taller than your grass and are probably blocking 90 percent of the sunlight from reaching the grass itself? So obviously, we need to improve conditions, so sunlight reaches the plants we want to grow.

With grass extremely short, more sunlight is hitting the soil surface now, which in turn results in more weed seed germinating. With the moisture we have received, we expect an abundance of weeds this year.

To read more, pick up a copy of the May issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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Farm & Ranch

Land Market Report: March Land Sales

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By Jared Groce

Rural land sales are continuing on a steady pace for early spring, with prices holding very strong with the sell-to-list price ratios remaining very high, even on properties that have been on the market for a longer than usual time period. The total number of transactions are picking up once again as the spring selling season kicks off, and the average acreage continues to decrease.

Larger acreage properties seem to be in higher demand than smaller properties currently, with many buyers simply parking cash in real estate to hedge against inflation. Interest rates seem to have settled down and most experts agree that rates will be reduced by the fed this year. Some lenders have programs in place that allow the buyer to reduce their rates without having to go through a full refinance ordeal.

To read more, pick up a copy of the May issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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