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2022 Projects: Brachytic Dwarf BMR Forage Sorghum as Double Crop

Is Forage Sorghum a Viable Alternative to Corn in New York?

The practice of double cropping is increasing in popularity in New York due to many environmental, economic and production benefits. Winter cereal double crops provide the environmental benefits of cover crops, such as reduced risk of erosion and nutrient loss, as well as increasing per acre crop yields by up to 3.5 tons of dry matter in the spring for forage. Because of the short growing season in upstate New York, harvesting the winter cereals in time for corn planting in the spring can be a challenge. Brachytic Dwarf Brown Midrib (BMR) forage sorghum is a promising alternative to corn silage in double cropping rotations due to both its nutritional value and the potential for earlier harvest, thus allowing for more flexibility in spring planting. We have three main questions regarding growing BMR forage sorghum as an alternative to corn silage: (1) how much N do we need to apply at planting for optimal economic yield, (2) what are the tradeoffs between yield and quality at different stages of harvest, and (3) how does it compare to a short season corn silage variety in both yield and quality? Spearheaded by Tom Kilcer (Advanced Agricultural Systems, Inc.), on-farm trials (4 times replicated) were implemented to quantify crop response to N addition (5 N rates at planting: 0, 50, 100, 150, and 200 lbs N/acre) and the tradeoffs between yield and quality at different timings of harvest (3 harvest times, at growth stages 5-7). In total, 11 trials were established from 2014-2016. In 2017, 2 additional N rate trials and 3 corn vs sorghum comparison trials will be established. Work is currently ongoing in eastern, central and northern New York.

If you are interested in participating, contact Quirine Ketterings ( or 607-255-3061). You can also write to: Quirine Ketterings, Nutrient Management Spear Program, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, 323 Morrison Hall, Ithaca NY 14853.


    Our goals are to determine the N needs of brachytic dwarf brown midrib forage sorghum, tradeoffs between yield and forage quality as impacted by timing of harvest .

Funding Sources

Initial funding for this project comes from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP), Federal Formula Funds, and contribution by Northeast Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension (NESARE). Contact Sarah Lyons ( or Quirine Ketterings ( if you would like more information on this project.

Additional Resources

Farmer Impact Stories

Fact Sheets

Extension Articles

Journal Articles

  • Lyons, S.E., Q.M. Ketterings, G.S. Godwin, D.J. Cherney, J.H. Cherney, M.E. Van Amburgh, J.J. Meisinger, and T.F. Kilcer (2019). Optimal harvest timing for brown midrib forage sorghum yield, nutritive value, and ration performance. Journal of Dairy Science (in press).
  • Lyons, S.E., Q.M. Ketterings, G.S. Godwin, D.J. Cherney, J.H. Cherney, J.J. Meisinger, and T.F. Kilcer (2019). Nitrogen management of brachytic dwarf brown midrib forage sorghum in New York. Agronomy Journal (in press).