BACKGROUND: The use of common vetch in grassland-livestock systems has expanded greatly within recent years, partly because of its value as a high-quality forage crop but also to improve the soil nitrogen availability. In-field estimation of forage yield potential and nutritional characteristics is required for providing management decision to farmers on how to optimize the management and use of common vetch forages. The aim of this work was to study changes in forage partitioning and nutritive value responses of a late-maturing and an early maturing cultivar of common vetch in a two-year study on the Tibetan Plateau. RESULTS: This study provided evidence for differential patterns of forage accumulation for common vetch with contrasting maturity over 2 years. The late-maturing cultivar exhibited greater forage yield and a lower proportion of pods, compared to the early maturing cultivar. There was a tendency towards lower forage nutritive value with the late-maturing cultivar. Regressions of nutritive value parameters of common vetch forages on growing degree days were explained by the cubic (P < 0.001) models, all with high coefficients of determination (R2 ≥ 0.792). CONCLUSION: This study shows that the late-maturing cultivar harvested at end of the pod-filling stage produces high forage yield, increasing the availability of high-quality forage for ruminants, thereby improving the self-sufficiency of farmers, in terms of forage yield and high-concentration protein. For early maturing cultivars, it may be better to harvest at the early flowering stage for better nutritive value and in part to enable a subsequent double crop of oat.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (No. 2014CB138706).
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- Tibetan plateau
- common vetch
- growing degree days
- nutritive value
- yield components