ABSTRACT.
Forage performance of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum [L.] R. Br.) in arid regions: Yield and quality assessment of new genotypes under different sowing dates

Heba S.A. Salama1*, Ahmed M. Shaalan2, and Mohamed E.A. Nasser3
 
The evaluation of new forage genotypes under arid conditions would contribute to solving the feed shortage problem during the summer season in arid areas and identify potential candidates for particular breeding programs. The present study evaluated the yield and quality of five multi-cut pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum [L.] R. Br.) genotypes (IP19586, IP19612, IP6105, IP13150, and Shandaweel-1) affected by three sowing dates (15 May, 1 June, and 15 June) during the 2017 and 2018 summer seasons in Alexandria, Egypt. Among the new genotypes, IP13150 maintained the desirable balance between both productivity and quality. In addition to its high DM yield (3.50 t ha-1), it was characterized by the highest crude protein (91.6 g kg-1) and N-free extract (500.5 g kg-1) contents, while it had the lowest fiber fractions. This was reflected on its organic matter digestibility (395.7 g kg-1), high gas production (24.5 mL g-1 OM), short-chain fatty acid production (47.4 Mm), microbial protein (47.8 g kg-1 OM), and the highest energy values among all the genotypes. Although DM yield of the local cv. Shandaweel-1 was moderate (3.2 t ha-1), it was inferior regarding all the tested quality attributes. Altering the sowing date exerted a limited effect on the studied parameters; early sowing on 15 May was superior to later sowing on 1 and 15 June. The superiority of the second cut over the first and third cuts in forage production highlights the success of pearl millet as a multi-cut crop in similar environments.
Keywords: Forage grasses, forage quality, fresh yield, gas production, in vitro digestibility.
1Alexandria University, Faculty of Agriculture, Crop Science Department, Aflaton Street, El-Shatby, 21545 Alexandria, Egypt.*Corresponding author (heba.salama@alexu.edu.eg).2Matrouh University, Faculty of Desert and Environmental Agriculture, Plant Production Department, 51744 Matrouh, Egypt.3Alexandria University, Faculty of Agriculture, Animal and Fish Production Department, Aflaton Street, El-Shatby, 21545 Alexandria, Egypt.