The Influence of Hybrid Maturity and Planting Date on Sweet Sorghum Productivity during a Harvest Season
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If sweet sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] is to be successfully deployed for sugar and biofuel production, agronomic systems must be developed that maximize the duration of the harvest season. Using available sweet sorghum hybrids, the goal of this study was to determine optimum planting dates and hybrid maturity selection to maximize the duration and yield of a harvest season for a subtropical production environment. Ten sweet sorghum hybrids representing three maturity classes (early, medium, and late) and three planting dates (April, May, and June) were evaluated in replicated trials in 2010 and 2011 in College Station, TX, and each maturity class was harvested to maximize biomass and sugar yields. At this location, sweet sorghum hybrids can be continually harvested from late July to early November. During this time, sugar yields are lowest at the beginning of the season (2.6 Mg ha-1) and highest from late August through early October (5.3 Mg ha-1). As expected, yields are maximized by medium and late maturing hybrids planted in April, but early maturity hybrids and late planting dates are necessary to extend the range of the harvest season. The harvest season of sweet sorghum in this environment is very complementary to the sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum L.) harvest season, indicating that these two crops could be grown and harvested in sequence to extend a mill season in most regions of the world where sugarcane is produced. 2013 by the American Society of Agronomy.