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Plants 2014, 3(2), 266-283; doi:10.3390/plants3020266

Nutritive Value Response of Native Warm-Season Forage Grasses to Harvest Intervals and Durations in Mixed Stands

1
Agricultural Research Station, Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA 23806, USA
2
Animal and Dairy Science Department, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA
3
Plant and Soil Sciences Department, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 December 2013 / Revised: 23 March 2014 / Accepted: 9 May 2014 / Published: 16 May 2014
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Abstract

Interest in management of native warm-season grasses for multiple uses is growing in southeastern USA. Forage quality response of early-succession mixed stands of big bluestem (BB, Andropogon gerardii), indiangrass (IG, Sorghastrum nutans), and little bluestem (SG, Schizachyrium scoparium) to harvest intervals (30-, 40-, 60-, 90 or 120-d) and durations (one or two years) were assessed in crop-field buffers. Over three years, phased harvestings were initiated in May, on sets of randomized plots, ≥90 cm apart, in five replications (blocks) to produce one-, two-, and three-year-old stands, by the third year. Whole-plot regrowths were machine-harvested after collecting species (IG and LB) sample tillers for leafiness estimates. Species-specific leaf area (SLA) and leaf-to-stem ratio (LSR) were greater for early-season harvests and shorter intervals. In a similar pattern, whole-plot crude protein concentrations were greatest for the 30-d (74 g·kg−1 DM) and the least (40 g·kg−1 DM) for the 120-d interval. Corresponding neutral detergent fiber (NDF) values were the lowest (620 g·kg−1 DM) and highest (710 g·kg−1 DM), respectively. In vitro dry matter and NDF digestibility were greater for early-season harvests at shorter intervals (63 and 720 g·kg−1 DM). With strategic harvesting, similar stands may produce quality hay for beef cattle weight gain.
Keywords: native grass; warm-season; bluestem; digestibility; composition; crude protein; defoliation; forage quality; mixed stand; harvest interval native grass; warm-season; bluestem; digestibility; composition; crude protein; defoliation; forage quality; mixed stand; harvest interval
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Temu, V.W.; Rude, B.J.; Baldwin, B.S. Nutritive Value Response of Native Warm-Season Forage Grasses to Harvest Intervals and Durations in Mixed Stands. Plants 2014, 3, 266-283.

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