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Seasonal dry matter yield and digestibility of 7 grass species alfalfa medicago sativa x medicago varia and cicer milkvetch astragalus cicer cultivar lutana in eastern montana usa


, : Seasonal dry matter yield and digestibility of 7 grass species alfalfa medicago sativa x medicago varia and cicer milkvetch astragalus cicer cultivar lutana in eastern montana usa. Agronomy Journal 73(3): 457-462

Differences in seasonal digestibility and DM [dry matter] yield were determined for 7 grass species, 3 ('Rambler', 'Drylander' and 'Orenberg') alfalfas (M. sativa L. ssp. .times. varia (Martyn) Arcangeli) and 'Lutana' cicer milkvetch (A. cicer L.) the 1st and 2nd yr after establishment. Forage species were seeded in 1974 in 50-cm rows on a Williams loam soil (fine-loamy mixed, Typic Argiborolls) near Sidney, Montana, which has an average annual precipitation of 35 cm. DM yield and in vitro digestibility converted to in vivo digestibility were determined 7 times in 1975 and 11 times in 1976 at progressive growth stages. 'Mayak' Russian wildrye (Elymus junceus Fisch.) and 'Prairieland' Altai wildrye (E. angustus Trin.) produced the lowest peak DM the 1st yr after seeding; however, they were among the species that produced the most DM the 2nd yr. The 3 alfalfas and 'Luna' pubescent wheatgrass [Agropyron trichophorum (Link) Richt.] produced the most peak DM the 1st yr after seeding; however, by the 2nd yr, they were among those species that produced the least. Digestibility at a given stage of development also differed greatly among species. The 2nd yr, forage of 'Prairieland' Altai wildrye and 'Lutana' cicer milkvetch during the fall and early winter were 8-10 percentage units more digestible than 'Nordan' crested wheatgrass [Agropyron desertorum (Fisch.) Schult.]. 'Regar' meadow bromegrass (Bromus biebersteinii Roem. and Schult.), a selection of reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) and 'Lodorm' green needlegrass (Stipa viridula Trin.) were also studied. Evaluating DM yield of a forage species at a given stage of plant development, such as anthesis, does not adequately reflect its potential. Species are best evaluated for DM production at some given level of digestibility, based on animal requirements.

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