Planting warm-season annual forages can be a viable option to fill in the summer slump of cool-season pastures and extend the grazing season into fall and winter. The selection of warm-season annual forages includes corn, forage sorghum, sorghum/sudangrass hybrids, pearl and foxtail millet, and teff. The type of warm-season forage should be chosen based on the adaptation of the species to the intended use, yield potential, and feeding value for the livestock program.
- Quick source of forage
- Rapid payback on establishment costs
- Breaks disease and pest cycles in crop rotations
- Flexibility to either graze at peak quality, ensile, or stockpile for fall/winter grazing
- High water use efficiency and nutrient uptake potential
- Soil temperatures must be above 50-60 degrees F
- Growth stops with the first frost
- Forage quality is typically lower than cool-season forages at the same maturity
- Planting and harvesting windows for highest forage quality are narrower than cool-season forages
Keep in mind that forage yield can vary greatly across different years, climates, and even within a site. Forage quality tends to decline as yield increases and is largely determined by the stage of maturity.