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    Sugargraze sorghum raises milk output 30% for arid farmers

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    By George Munene

    Sug­ar­graze is a new hy­brid spe­cialty for­age in­tro­duced to the Kenyan mar­ket by agri-pro­duce mul­tina­tional Ad­vanta. The multi-cut high sugar for­age prom­ises farm­ers a 30 per cent in­crease in milk out­put.

    Given it is a sorghum vari­ant sug­ar­garaze is drought tol­er­ant com­pared to other fod­der crops such as maize and napier grass. It thrives in both high and low po­ten­tial areas with poor soils, where maize pro­duc­tion is poorer.

    This also makes it an ideal source of fod­der when maize and other feed sources fail.

    It is high yield­ing with an acre giv­ing up to 40 met­ric tonnes, which is much more for­age than other sources of fod­der such as maize. Un­like maize, their lower leaves do not dry out as the plant ma­tures, re­main­ing green and re­tain­ing a higher crude pro­tein con­tent.

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    To other fod­der sources such as maize, sug­ar­graze has the ad­vant­age of ra­toon­ing (grow­ing again). The second crop ma­tures earlier but de­pend­ing on the level of feed might yield slightly less than the first crop. This cuts on cost in land pre­par­a­tion, pur­chas­ing of seeds and re­plant­ing.

    The late flower­ing sorghum cul­tivar has a high sugar con­tent (Brix 16-18%) that is a su­per­ior source of en­ergy to cows. This also im­proves its en­sil­ing qual­ity en­abling farm­ers to make high-qual­ity sil­age be­sides mak­ing it ex­tremely pal­at­able hence min­imal feed waste. 

    Sug­ar­gaze should be es­tab­lished at a seed rate of 5kg per acre in heavy black soils and 6kg on light soils pre­pared to a fine tilth and at a plant­ing depth of 5-6cm depth. The soils should prefer­ably have a PH range of 5.5-7.0. 

    For op­timum growth, farm­ers should con­duct soil tests to es­tab­lish their soil’s nu­tri­ent de­fi­ciency. Whilst plant­ing phos­phatic fer­til­iser should be ap­plied at a rate of N-30kg/acre, P-2Kg/acre. Ad­equate ni­tro­gen en­sures fast growth and re­gen­er­a­tion after cut­ting. Top dress­ing can be done at the third-week post-es­tab­lish­ment using any ni­tro­gen­ous fer­til­iser.

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    Su­g­agraze is ma­ture for har­vest­ing after 75 –90 days after flower­ing for green for­age and 85 days for green for­age. Ra­toon (second har­vest) ma­tures in just 50-60 days after the first cut. A farmer should leave a 6-8 inch stalk above ground to allow for im­me­di­ate re­gen­er­a­tion of multi-cuts.

    “Sug­ar­graze is har­vestable for one and half years be­fore need­ing to be changed,” says Jomo Mwangala a seed ag­ro­nom­ist at Elgon Kenya Lim­ited 

    Ad­vanta Seeds In­ter­na­tional: +254703879082

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