Sorghum for biofuel instead of vegetable cover crop: Hastings partnership update

Jacque W. Breman, Scott Taylor, David A. Dinkins, Edsel Redden, Amanda J. Gevens, Ana Saballos, Wilfred Vermerris


Sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L. Moench)] is used as a vegetable cover crop on about 30,000 acres of the Hastings tri-county agricultural region. Hastings Partnership has conducted sweet and grain sorghum trials for biofuel as an alternative to turning the cover crop under between vegetable seasons. Sweet sorghum studies included three N rates, two cultivars, two stages of growth at harvest, and topped compared to not-topped inflorescences. Sugar yields were dependent on the N rate (P = 0.0238), topping treatment (P = 0.0003), cultivar (P = 0.0001), and cultivar × topping interaction (P = 0.0001). Highest sugar yield, 6558 lbs/acre, was obtained with ‘M81E’ at the intermediate N rate of 112 lb/acre, harvested at the soft dough stage with the inflorescence not topped. No significant differences were found between nematode populations when ‘M81E’ and ‘Dale’ were compared after 2 years of continuous cultivation. No significant differences were found in germplasm resistance to foliar anthracnose infection. Muremba, a USDA GRIN accession, and ‘M81E’ had the highest percent upright stalks after a tropical storm, 61% and 70%, respectively. Sorghum grain yield was increased from 27 to 115 bushels/acre by using an improved hybrid, DeKalb S-54, at the 150 lb/acre N rate.

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283