Forage potential of sorghum and pearl millet uri icon


  • Sorghum and Pennisetum are two of the gifted genera of the tropical regions that provide food, feed, stover (dry straw) and fuel to millions of poor farmer families and their livestocks. Single-cut sorghum and multi-cut pearl millet varieties are also cultivated for green fodder (forage). In addition, the interspecific sorghum sudangrass annual multi-cut hybrids are grown for green fodder. The interspecific pearl millet × napiergrass hybrids are perennial and yield green fodder throughout the year.Pearl millet uses less water per unit of forage production, tolerates both lower and higher soil pH and higher aluminium concentration, and is rich in minerals ascompared to sorghum. However, sorghum has a wider range of adaptability and is more widely grown. Geographical preferences, limited market demand, variableprices, and lack of private industry and institutional research support have led to limited pearl millet forage research and cultivar adoption.Forage quality is paramount to palatability or acceptability and animal intake. Plant morphology, anatomical components, digestibility, protein,mineral, cellulose and lignin contents, and anti-nutritional factors like hydrocyanic acid in sorghum and oxalic acid in pearl millet determine animalperformance ? milk and meat production.Development of multi-cut annual forage sorghum and pearl millet hybrids rather than varieties could have a catalytic effect on forage yield and quality.Diversification of sorghum seed parents (white-grained rather than the currently used red-grained male steriles) and development of sudangrass pollinators withhigh sugar content and foliar disease resistance offer good opportunities for the exploitation of full potential of the interspecific hybrids. Crop scientists, chemicaltechnologists, and animal health and nutrition experts have a role to play in good quality forage research and cultivar development. Inter-institutional partnershipscould forge strong interlinks for strengthening sorghum and pearl millet forage research and development

publication date

  • 2005