Illinois Bundleflower Forage Potential in the Upper Midwestern USA: I. Yield, Regrowth, and Persistence

Fischbach, J.A.; Peterson, P.R.; Sheaffer, C.C.

Agronomy Journal 97(3): 6-94


ISSN/ISBN: 0002-1962
DOI: 10.2134/agronj2004.0138
Accession: 009876047

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Illinois bundleflower is a warm-season perennial legume native to the central plains of the USA with potential as both a forage and grain crop. The effects of management variables on Iltinois bundleflower (IBF) forage production in the upper midwestern USA have not been evaluated. We evaluated the effects of maturity at harvest, cutting height, and N fertilization on forage yield, regrowth, and persistence of three northern ecotypes of IBF. Field experiments were established at four Minnesota locations in 2000. Total-season forage yields in postestablishment years ranged from 2.5 to 5.3 Mg dry matter (DM) ha-1 across environments. First-harvest forage yield increased (P and#60; 0.05) from 2.8 Mg DM ha-1 at early flower in mid-July to 4.2 Mg DM ha-1 at late pod in mid-August. In mid-September, within-season regrowth averaged 1.7 Mg ha-1 from plants previously cut at early flower and 0.6 Mg ha-1 from plants cut at late pod. A 35-cm cutting height resulted in 60% more regrowth yield (P and#60; 0.05) than a 15-cm cutting height, but only in plants harvested at early flower. Plants cut at late pod in 2001 did not persist into 2002. October root total nonstructural carbohydrate (TNC) concentration ranged (P and#60; 0.05) from 244 g kg-1 in plants cut at late pod to 280 g kg-1 in plants left uncut. Complete winterkill of all treatments at all locations between 2002 and 2003, regardless of October TNC level, may have been caused by below-average snow cover. Illinois bundleflower can provide summer forage in the upper midwestern USA, but persistence in monoculture is limited, especially in harsh winters. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.