Submitted to: Journal of Production Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/3/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Pearl millet is one of the two major summer annual species planted in the U.S. to provide high-quality forage for livestock. Reduced pasture establishment costs are important to keep livestock production (mainly meat and milk) profitable. The standard method for establishing pearl millet pastures is to drill about 25 lbs of seed per acre in 7-inch rows. We conducted this study to determine whether animal production would be affected if we planted pearl millet in 36-inch rows at a 5 lb/ac planting rate compared to the standard 25 lb/ac seeding rate. We found that the two-year average animal performance was the same for both seeding rates. However, in a year with favorable moisture, the 25 lb/ac seeding rate produced more animal gain while in a dry year, the 5 lb/ac seeding rate produced more animal gain.
Technical Abstract: In a 2-yr study (1992,1993), yearling beef heifers grazed pastures of two pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) cultivars (C; Tifleaf 1 [TL1] or Tifleaf 2 [TL2]) planted with two seeding methods (SM; conventional drill at 25 lb seed/A [D]; or 3-ft rows at 5 lb seed/A [R]). Eight 2.0 acre pastures on Tifton sandy loam (fine-loamy, siliceous, thermic Plinthic Kandrudults) soil were used each yr in the 2 2 2 factorial experiment. During 84-d grazing trials initiated June 4 and June 3 in respective yrs, forage height was kept at 18-25 inches using variable stocking rates, and four tester heifers (706 lb initial BW) grazed continuously on each pasture. Cultivar did not significantly affect ADG or gain/A (TL1=1.50; 477 lb vs TL2=1.46; 454 lb), because rust infections were minimal during this experiment. Seeding method did not affect ADG or gain/A (P>.10), but grazing d/A were higher for R than D (R=847vsD=751; P<.05). Heifer ADG and grazing d were affected by yr with higher ADG in 1992 than 1993 (1.64vs1.29 lb; P<.05) an more grazing d/A in 1993 than 1992 (350vs297; P<.01). A seeding method by yr interaction (P<.10) resulted in higher ADG and gain/A for D than R in 1992 when rainfall distribution was more favorable and higher performance on R than D in 1993 when rainfall distribution was less favorable. Esophageal steer pasture masticate in 1992 on d 77 had lower NDF for D than R (27.3vs35.8%; P<.05), and IVDMD was higher for D than R (70.8vs64.0%; P<.05). Seeding method affected forage quality and heifer performance, with R being favored when rainfall was limited.