Crop Management Guide -

Sorghum is the most important forage crop of the country. It can be grown over a wide range of soils in central, western and southern India. It is nutritious and palatable and can be fed as green, dry or as conserved fodder in the form of silage or hay. On an average it contains

  • 9-10 % crude protein (CP),
  • 9-10 % crude protein (CP),
  • 37-42 % acid detergent fibre (ADF),
  • 32 % cellulose and
  • 21-23 % hemi cellulose on dry matter basis when harvested at 50 % flowering stage.
  • Since, it is largely grown for grain, therefore, stover is used for feeding the animals. Its stover contains 6.0-6.4 % crude protein and 32-36 % crude fibre. To overcome the possibility of HCN poisoning, the crop should be properly irrigated during summer and harvested only after 40-45 days of growth.

    Soil and its preparation

  • Well drained sandy loam to loam soils with a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5 are ideally suited for its cultivation.
  • The field should be thoroughly prepared and leveled to make weeds free sowing. Better crop stand and growth is obtained on well-prepared soils.
  • One ploughing with soil turning plough followed by two harrowings (crosswise) and planking is sufficient to get a good seed bed.
  • One ploughing with soil turning plough followed by two harrowings (crosswise) and planking is sufficient to get a good seed bed.

    Sowing time

  • Single or double cut varieties are sown with the onset of monsoon in June-July.
  • Multi cut types are sown during March-April in areas with irrigation facility which provides four cuts till September-October in northern India.
  • However, in southern India, where minimum temperatures do not fall below 15°C, it is grown during Rabi season also in the month of October-November.
  • For summer sowing of multi cut types, mid March to mid April is the best period, while for monsoon season crop, sowing should be done preferably between 25th June and 10th July.

    Seed rate and sowing method

  • Sowing should be done at distance of 25-30 cm row to row using a seed rate of 25-40 kg/ha for bold seeded varieties.
  • For small seeded Sudan types, a seed rate of 25-30 kg/ha is sufficient.
  • The seed should not be placed more than 2.0 - 2.5 cm depth.

    Intercropping

  • Intercropping of sorghum with forage legumes, improves quality of fodder and soil health.
  • Forage legumes like cowpea and guar are commonly grown in association.
  • Row proportion of 2:2 has been found ideal for balanced green biomass production and forage quality.

    Nutrient management

  • The field should be manured with 10 t FYM/ha to meet requirement of secondary and micro nutrients.
  • In single cut varieties, basal application of 60:30:30 kg N: P O : K O per hectare should be given at sowing time followed by top dressing with 30 kg N/ha, one month after sowing.
  • In low rainfall and rainfed areas, 60 kg N/ha is applied at sowing time.
  • In case of two cuts and multicut, dose of 60:60:60 kg & 70:30:30 kg N: P O :K O/ha, respectively, as basal should be applied.
  • Top dressing of 50 kg N/ha should be done after each cut. For better crop performance, 20-30 N/ha may be applied coinciding with rainfall at 30-35day stage. If crop suffers due to dry spell, spraying of 2% urea solution should be done.
  • In sulphur deficient soils (below 10 ppm available S), the application of 40-60 kg S/ha is advantageous not only for improving biomass production but quality of the fodder also.
  • Application of Azotobactor alongwith inorganic nutrients favourably affect growth and yield.

    Water management

  • Rainy season (July) sown crop may require 1-2 irrigations depending upon distribution of rains.
  • For summer sown crop, 5-6 irrigations are required due to high evaporative demand.
  • In southern region Rabi season crops, require about 4 irrigations for better performance of the crop.

    Weed management

  • Sorghum is infected with many seasonal weeds and crop weed competition is more during 30-35 day stage.
  • One hoeing through weeder cum mulcher at 3-4 weeks crop stage is very effective to control the weeds in sorghum.
  • Pre-emergence application of atrazine @ 0.50 kg a.i. /ha in 600 litres of water is very effective.
  • This should be applied only in pure crop of sorghum.
  • In intercropping of sorghum with legumes, pre emergence spraying of alachlor @ 1.0 kg a.i. /ha is recommended for effective management of weeds.

    Disease and insect- pest management

  • Sorghum is infected by number of insects and disease pathogens.
  • Some of the important diseases are Anthracnose, Sooty stripe and Zonate leaf spot.
  • Among insects, shoot fly, stem borer and sorghum midge are important.
  • In forage sorghum, use of chemicals for control of insect-pest diseases may not be a safe option. Therefore, field samitation, use of healthy seed and seed treatment with Thiram @ 3 g/kg seed is recommended.
  • To avoid diseases and pests, resistant varieties are to be grown. Summer sown crop is very susceptible to shoot fly and it may be controlled by Carbofuran 3G @ 3-4 kg/ha applied in trench at sowing time. To avoid diseases and pests, resistant varieties are to be grown. Summer sown crop is very susceptible to shoot fly and it may be controlled by Carbofuran 3G @ 3-4 kg/ha applied in trench at sowing time.
  • To avoid attack of stem borers, crop should be sown during July as it is not attacked by the borers during rainy season

    Harvesting management

  • The crop should be harvested at 60-75 days of sowing (50% flowering stage) in case of single cut varieties.
  • In case of multi-cut varieties, harvesting has to be done for first cut at 40-45 days and subsequent cut at 30 days of intervals.

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