Sangamesh V. Angadi, 2346 State Rd 288, New Mexico State University, Clovis, NM, Sultan Begna, Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, Clovis, NM and Michael J. Stamm, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS
The Southern Great Plains is known for the large beef and dairy industry. These animals need enormous quantity of high quality forage around the year. However, forage production in the region always falls short of the demand. Winter canola is a very well adopted alternative crop for the region that offers a number of rotational benefits. It produces a large quantity of biomass by using relatively small amount of water. However, information on seasonal patterns of forage production and forage quality of WC in comparison to winter wheat (WW) and the effect of grazing on seed and oil yield of WC are limited. Therefore, a field study was conducted at the Agricultural Science Center, Clovis, NM in 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons to compare three diverse WC cultivars (cvs. Griffin, Safran and DKW-44-10) with WW cv. TAM-111 (cv. TAM-103 was added for the second year of the study) for simulated grazing response. Compared to TAM-111, all canola cultivars produced more forage biomass at first hard freeze and this higher forage production by canola was also seen during the regrowth period in the early spring (February and March). However, by mid-April the forage production by both crops were similar. In the second year, TAM-113 produced more biomass compared to TAM-111 and forage production by it was not always lower compared to canola cultivars. Among forage quality parameters, crude protein (CP) content differences between WC and WW were small. Comparison between crops for Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF) content did not show any clear trend. However, WW had higher Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) compared to WC in both years suggesting lower hemicellulose content in WC compared to WW. Mean Relative Feed Value (RFV) of WC was 48 to 106% higher than WW suggesting better intake potential and digestibility of WC forage. Nitrate content of WC forage was much higher compared to WW, indicating some concern of feeding only WC forage. If planning for canola seed yield, forage harvest at the end of February when the regrowth starts seems to be the most optimum time.