Ratoon Grain Sorghum and Other Seeds for Waterfowl in Sorghum Croplands

Grain sorghum provides energy-rich seeds for waterfowl and may provide important alternative foraging habitat considering a noted decrease of waste agricultural seeds for wintering waterfowl in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. We conducted experiments in 22 sorghum fields in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana during falls 2006-2007 to evaluate abundance of ratoon grain (i.e., post-harvest, second crop), waste grain from the harvested first crop, and natural seeds. Nitrogen fertilized plots in 2007 produced >4 times more ratoon grain (x- = 219.57 ± 39.65 [SE] kg (dry)/ha) than other treatments. Nitrogen fertilized plots in the southern sub-region of our study produced ~5 times more ratoon grain (x- = 262.93 ± 50.28 kg/ha) than other plots. We recommend not manipulating sorghum stubble after harvest, applying nitrogen fertilizer under certain conditions, flooding fields after ratoon grain is produced, and integrating moist-soil wetland management into agricultural lands to increase abundance of foods for wintering waterfowl.

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