What does “brachytic dwarf” mean?
Alta Seeds breeders were the first to introduce brachytic dwarf genetics in sorghum. There are four dwarfing genes in sorghum which control height. These genes produce a type of dwarfism known as “brachytic dwarf”, which reduces the length of the internodes (leaf spacing) without affecting other agronomic plant characteristics, such as leaf number, leaf size, maturity or yield/biomass production.
Sorghum with the brachytic dwarf trait typically grows to about 6 feet tall and produces comparable tonnage to taller hybrids by producing more leaves and more tillers. Sorghums with this trait have very high leaf-to-stalk ratios, prolific tillering, superior standability, and comparable tonnage to normal height sorghums.
Generally, conventional sorghum products will have a distance of 6 to 7 inches between each leaf, while hybrids with the brachytic dwarf genetics have leaf spacing of 1 ½ to 4 inches. This allows brachytic dwarf hybrids to be leafier. Additionally, the shorter plant structure (about 6 feet) helps to alleviate lodging issues.
How do I determine whether I should plant forage sorghum, sorghum-sudangrass or sudangrass?
The type of sorghum you plant will be determined by how you intend to use it.
Forage Sorghum – Best choice for single-cut silage and standing green-chop production
Forage sorghums are generally taller, produce more leaves, and are later maturing than typical grain sorghum hybrids. Many forage sorghums have a sweet stalk making them very palatable to livestock when used for grazing or hay production. Forage sorghum can produce very high biomass yields, but generally has less re-growth potential than sudangrass or sorghum sudangrass which makes forage sorghum an excellent choice for single-cut silage and standing green-chop production uses. The soft dough stage is considered the optimum time for harvesting.
Sorghum-sudangrass – Best Choice for grazing and hay production due to excellent re-growth
Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids are typically crosses between forage sorghums (female parent) and sudangrass types (male parent). They characteristically reach a height of six to eight feet, have smaller stalks than forage sorghum, strong tillering, and produce more tonnage than sudangrass. They have excellent re-growth potential compared to forage sorghums, but less than sudangrass. The excellent re-growth ability of sorghum-sudangrass hybrids makes it well suited for multiple harvest systems. The term “haygrazer” is typically applied to these hybrid crosses. Although, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids are primarily used for grazing and hay production, they can be used for silage. If used for silage, proper management and timing of harvest will be necessary to achieve the desired moisture content or utilize a drystalk hybrid offered by Alta Seeds.
Sudangrass - Best choice for grazing and hay production or as a cover crop
Sudangrass is smaller in plant architecture, has finer stalks, produces more leaves than forage sorghum and develops multiple tillers. Compared to forage or grain sorghums, sudangrass looks more like a “grass” plant. It possesses excellent re-growth ability with very quick recovery following cutting or grazing, compared to forage sorghum or sorghum-sudangrass hybrids. Total biomass tonnage for a single harvest generally will be less than yields of forage sorghum, however, a multi-cut/harvest system can produce excellent yields with the new generation Sudangrass from Alta Seeds. . Sudangrass is primarily utilized for grazing and hay production and can serve as an excellent cover-crop.
What is the optimum planting depth for forage sorghums?
Optimum planting depth of sorghums varies with soil type and moisture conditions, but 1 to 2 inches is generally recommended. Seed should be planted at a depth of 1 inch in fine textured soils and up to 1.75 inches in sandy soil. Slightly deeper planting is sometimes appropriate to reach moisture.
Can I plant forage and grain sorghum with a drill?
Yes, but please be sure to set the appropriate rate of seeding and make sure that you have the depth set to plant to moisture.
What planting equipment is best for planting forage or grain sorghum?
Sorghum can be planted with the same equipment as corn. Precision planting equipment is always best. Be sure to use the appropriate plates or cups if necessary.
What cups or plates do I need for my corn planter to accurately plant the forage or sorghums?
Use a “LOW RATE” sorghum cup or plate. It is very important to plant the appropriate populations to insure crop efficiency and maximize production.
Can I “no-till” Alta Seeds sorghum products?
Yes, no-till is a great option. Be sure to get the seeding depth correct and use caution to what the previous crop was; a cereal rye and some other crops may produce an alleopathy that will affect the stand of the next crop.
What is the recommended planting population?
There are guidelines below, but it’s always best to contact your local Alta Seeds retailer for a recommendation based on your location.
BMR-6 Forage Sorghum
30 inch rows: 80,000 to 100,000 plants per acre
15 inch rows: 100,000 to 120,000 plants per acre
In the High Plains 15 to 25 pounds per acre is sufficient to achieve optimum plant populations.
In other regions, 25 to 40 pounds per acre may be necessary to achieve optimum plant populations. Populations for BMR-6 types are usually half what is needed for non-BMR types.
With the seed size being smaller than the sorghum x sudangrasses, we are able to seed at a lower rate. Seeding rates for the High Plains are generally 15 – 25 lbs and other parts of the US are 20 to 25 pounds.
Grain sorghum or Milo
This varies for each region based on available moisture. Please contact your local retailer for localized information.
Non-BMR Forage Sorghum
Planting rate for Alta Seeds AF8301 is generally 100,000 population for 30 rows and 20% higher for narrow rows.
The seeding rates for non-BMR sorghum-sudangrass are generally twice the amount needed for the BMR-6 types. Generally, 50 pounds per acre is suggested in the High Plains and 100 pounds per acre is suggested in northern states.
Please visit your local Alta Seeds retailer for a recommendation for your region.
Is 5-6 lbs/acre really enough?
It depends what you are seeding. Alta Seeds recommends planting by plants per acre instead of by pounds per acre if you are planting grain or forage sorghum. Please refer to the recommendation for the specific type of product you intend to plant for the best results.
What is a seed safener?
Seed safener is a treatment that is applied to the seed that protects the seed from herbicide injury due to S-metolachlor (contained in the herbicide brands BICEP II Magnum and DUAL GOLD). Safeners reduce the effect of the herbicide on crop plants, and improve selectivity between crop plants vs. weed species being targeted by the herbicide. Consult with your chemical supplier. Always read and follow label instructions.
When do I irrigate?
Sorghum has significantly less water requirements than corn. Sorghum has the ability to maintain high yields under water stress conditions and resume growth after drought.
In grain sorghum, water use is highest just before and during the booting stage. Plants require more water during this stage, which usually begins 35 to 40 days after emergence. Irrigation at this stage usually results in a significant increase in yields. Even short periods of water stress just before and during the booting growth stage can reduce yields. Moisture stress reduces both the number and size of seeds per head.
Studies have shown forage sorghum responds well to irrigation. Because of its high water use efficiency, forage sorghum can remain productive with up to half the water normally required for corn. Irrigation timing of forage sorghum may be key, but no precise research results are available on that topic.
What chop length should I use for a direct chop, BMR-6 silage?
To achieve the proper rate of passage for cattle, it is recommended that the chop length be extended to 1 to 1.25 inches. This allows the animal to properly use this highly digestible crop within the rumen.
When is the earliest that I can plant Alta Seeds sorghum products?
Planting of sorghum is recommended when soil temperatures reach 60 degrees Fahrenheit and are rising for good germination.
What height should I chop/graze my _______ at to achieve optimum re-growth?
When chopping sorghum for re-growth, it is recommended to leave at least 2 leaf internodes below the cutting. The height of the remaining sorghum plant will vary depending on whether it has the brachytic dwarf trait or if it is a conventional sorghum. With conventional sorghum, it is generally recommended to leave behind 6-7 inches of height for proper re-growth. Hybrids with the brachytic dwarf trait can be chopped shorter since the 2 leaf internodes will be lower on the plant.
Sudangrass – Alta Seeds AS9301 should have 6 to 7 inches, allowing at least 2 leaf nodes. Since Alta Seeds AS9302 is a dwarf sudangrass, you may cut this hybrid shorter and still leave 2 nodes.
Sorghum x sudangrass - 6 to 7 inches, allowing at least 2 leaf nodes. When Planting Alta Seeds AS6402, you may harvest this shorter due to it being a brachytic dwarf hybrid.
Forage sorghum - If you are looking to retoon this crop, 6 to 7 inches, allowing at least 2 leaf nodes.
Brachytic Alta forage sorghum, sorghum x sudangrass or sudangrass - Approximately 3 inches, allowing at least 2 leaf nodes.
When can I expect to harvest my first cutting of an Alta Seeds sorghum-sudangrass or sudangrass product?
For the highest overall season yield and highest quality, the “rule of thumb” is 40 days or 40-inches of growth. Whichever comes first. Subsequent harvests should also take place at 40 inches for optimum tonnage.
With good water and adequate fertilization, how often can I expect to cut my Alta Seeds sorghum-sudangrass or sudangrass?
Most growers should expect to cut their crop about every 3 weeks. Since the roots are already established, your Alta Seeds sorghum-sudangrass or sudangrass product should be at approximately 36 to 40 inches in height within about 20 to 25 days of growth. For best re-growth, do not cut lower than 2 internodes. Reduced or low moisture conditions will greatly affect the recommended timing listed above.