|Looking east across a field of sorghum-sudangrass|
I planted about 36 acres of sorghum-sudangrass back on June 24, but instead of grazing it after it winter-killed like I did last year, I decided to bale it this summer. One of the main reasons for baling hay instead of grazing it this winter is that I'm planning on planting grain sorghum next spring and I don't want to take the risk of ending up with a bunch of volunteer sorghum-sudnagrass in my grain sorghum field like I had this year. Depending on how much rain we get, the sorghum-sudangrass should easily regrow to about 18-24 inches tall in the next few weeks or so, then I'll graze it off with the cattle and plant some wheat as a cover crop (at a much lower rate than I'd normally plant). I'm thinking about planting a simple mix of wheat and turnips to feed the worms, cattle, and deer, but I don't know if that will happen until it happens.
This summer, I planted a photoperiod-sensitive type of sorghum-sudangrass which means it won't start heading until the days get shorter than 12.5 hours in length. Because of that trait, it is supposed to make a higher quality hay because the maturity is delayed until sometime in September, which means it produces more leaves for a longer period of time instead of producing a head and getting more stemmy. All of that also means that the seed costs more, and at this point, I'm a little undecided about if it grew any differently than "ordinary" sorghum-sudangrass would have grown and if the extra seed cost was worth it, although I'm leaning awful hard in the direction that ordinary, cheaper sorghum-sudangrass would work just as well for the way I grow and manage it.
From what I've seen, photoperiod-sensitive sorghum-sudangrass would be better suited to a situation where it was being planted in late-April and was going to be cut for hay multiple times over the summer. If you're going to double crop it after wheat or are planning to graze it in the summer, the ordinary, hopefully cheaper varieties of sorghum-sudangrass might be the better choice.
|It's almost hard to see where you're driving in a field of 5-6 foot tall grass|
Besides that, baling sorghum-sudangrass is about the same as any other grass hay except that it's a little trickier getting it dry enough to bale while also trying to make sure it doesn't get too dry. If anyone is thinking about baling sorghum-sudangrass, it's pretty important to cut it with something like a disc mower conditioner which crimps the stem so that it will dry down quick enough. Even though I use a disc mower, most of the time it'll take at least an extra day or so for it to be dry enough to bale.
My bales also always seem to have a "shaggy" look to them when they are first baled, it always makes me get off of the tractor to double-check those first bales since it looks like the bales aren't being tied right or are loose, but I think it's just the nature of the grass and after the bales have set for a while they start to lose that "shaggy" look. A net-wrapped bale wouldn't have that temporary shagginess, but since my baler gives me twine-wrapped bales, the shagginess doesn't bother me at all (besides that, I'm not a big fan of net-wrapped bales).
That's about all I know about sorghum-sudangrass hay. It grows quick, needs a little nitrogen but not too much, it can sometimes be difficult to get dry, it makes heavy bales, and my cattle seem to attack any bales of it that I feed them (there's almost no waste and they practically lick the ground clean to get every last bit of hay).