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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #225489

Title: Finger millet: An alternative forage crop for Southern High Plains

item Gowda, Prasanna
item Howell, Terry

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/31/2011
Publication Date: 10/5/2008
Citation: Gowda, P., Howell, T.A., Vara Prasad, P.V. 2008. Finger millet: An alternative forage crop for Southern High Plains [abstract]. 2008 Joint Meeting of American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America, and Crop Science Society of America, October 5-9, 2008, Houston, Texas. Paper No. 569-5. 2008 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In the Southern High Plains, dairies are expanding to take advantage of favorable climatic conditions. Currently corn (Zea mays L.) and forage sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) are the two major crops grown in the region to meet the current silage demand. Corn and sorghum have relatively large water uses (835 mm for corn and 688 mm for forage sorghum, respectively) that require irrigation in most years to achieve desirable yields and protein levels. Rising energy costs and declining water levels in the underlain Ogallala Aquifer require crops that require less water. Finger millet (Eleusine coracana L.) is highly resistant to pests, diseases and environmental stresses including drought and is currently grown in arid regions of the world. It uses 10-20% less water than sorghum. Forage yield under irrigated conditions are expected to be nearly double those on rain-fed land. In our study, we evaluated the adaptability of five varieties of finger millet to the Southern High Plains climatic conditions. Results indicated that finger millet can be grown in the Southern High Plains. Limited nutrient analysis of finger millet silage has shown that the quality of finger millet, as feed to dairy livestock, is relatively higher than that of corn and sorghum. However, forage yield of most commonly grown corn and sorghum in the region is relatively higher than that of finger millet. Therefore, finger millet grown on dryland may provide a unique opportunity to improve dairy-fed silage quality by mixing it with corn or sorghum silage while meeting the growing regional demand for silage.