A new brown midrib (BMR) sorghum variety could give small dairies and livestock operations in Central America better forage quality without giving up yield.

The variety – CI0947bmr – was developed by researchers at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Centro Nacional de Tecnologia Agropecuaria y Forestal in El Salvador.

It offers a combination of agronomic adaptation, biomass and grain yield and improved quality, says Bill Rooney, the Texas A&M plant breeder who worked on the project. The sorghum can be grown as forage, silage or as a grain crop with the residue used as forage.

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Producing high-quality forage is difficult in the region’s tropical climates, where pests and pathogens can wreck havoc on yield and quality. Seasonal dry periods also limit production.

But Central American producers rely on locally grown sorghum, Rooney says, so introducing the brown midrib trait there was an easy decision.

“The BMR mutations result in lower lignin content in the plant, providing higher forage digestibility while also increasing palatability,” he adds.

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