Monday, May 2, 2011

Odds and Ends

As a result of my considerable time away, which is typical of JAN - APR due to the trip to Argentina and a lot of other stuff going on, I have developed quite a backlog of really good questions, comments and points of discussion that I would like to try to address over the next few weeks.

Last fall and early winter, we had quite a few discussions on cattle markets and the like and since that time, the markets have gone crazy with no real end in sight. This market run probably has a good side and a bad side, depending on which side of the fence you sit on; but we can visit more about that later.

Right now, I would like to respond to some of the great stuff readers of SDR have passed along. I probably won't get to everything, either because I don't really have a good comment or answer, or because it is so specific to your individual situation that it doesn't have much application to the broader audience of SDR. But I do read each and every email and I do appreciate the questions, feedback and comments.

I'll start with question #175 ( I keep them numbered in a spreadsheet so I don't lose track of them)

Q #175 - Do you have any yield and quality info for millets for the central area?

A: Yes and no, I'm not sure what you mean by "central area" but I will assume you mean central SD. By "yes and no" I mean I have some yield and quality info for certain varieties, but certainly not for all of them.

I have done a couple of yield trials at Miller, SD and have some data for a couple hybrids of Pearl millet. Of course there are many types of millet and they are not all the same. The type you want to plant depends on what you want it to do for you. Pearl millet is a good millet hybrid especially for haying and maybe some grazing if conditions are right.

The two Pearl millet hybrids I used in this trial was a non-BMR hybrid Pearl millet and the other was a BMR hybrid Pearl Millet. I planted four 20 ft. x 40 ft. plots of each variety on JUN 1. I harvested the plots on SEP 20. The harvest date was a little later than I would have liked, but we got some rain around the time I wanted to harvest and had to wait for things to dry out.

At harvest time, the forage from each plot was cut and weighed in tons per acre. Then sample moisture was determined to correct weights to a dry-matter basis in tons per acre. Then I took samples to the lab to have them tested for crude protein (%CP) and total digestible nutrients (TDN).

Using the %CP and TDN results I then calculated CP yield in tons per acre and TDN yield in tons per acre to give an idea of which variety yielded the most nutrients as well as the most forage.

You can see in the table that you give up some yield with the BMR variety. About a ton and a half on average (27%). However, what you give up in yield you gain with quality. The BMR runs about 14% higher %CP and 4% higher TDN than the non-BMR hybrid. So what does all this mean?

A lot of it is going to have to do with what you want this forage to do. If you are just looking for gut-fill for cows or to mix in with higher quality feeds for calves, the higher yielding, lower quality non-BMR hybrid is probably what you need. However, if you are looking to graze, I would go with the BMR variety. It is a lot more palatable than the non-BMR hybrids and since there isn't quite so much yield, cattle tend to waste a lot less (read: about zero) of it in grazing situations. If grazing ends up not working out, you can still hay it and have some real nice feed. You can graze the non-BMR too, but expect cattle to trample, foul, refuse, and waste 30% or so, so you are right back to about where you would be with the BMR hybrid.

Thank you and Have a Great Day!

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