Perennial warm-season grasses do not provide high-quality forage during mid- to late summer, which limits yearling stocker cattle from maintaining high rates of growth in the southern Great Plains. This shortage has resulted in a continual search by researchers for annual legumes that can provide sufficient amounts of nutritious forage during August through September, according to an announcement from the American Society of Agronomy.
In a recently published article in Agronomy Journal, researchers from the Grazinglands Research Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and Oklahoma State University documented the function of tepary bean and guar as potential summer forages under southern Great Plains growing conditions.
The two-year field experiment — conducted by G.S. Baath, B.K. Northup, P.H. Gowda, A.C. Rocateli and H. Singh — compared the productivity, leaf-to-stem ratios and chemical compositions of forage produced by three cultivars of each of tepary bean and guar, with soybeans used as a control, the announcement said.
Results showed that tepary bean consistently offered rapid and better forage yields with a higher leaf-to-stem ratio. In contrast, guar maintained a low leaf-to-stem ratio, and soybeans possessed the least digestible stems in forage biomass among the tested legumes, the researchers said.
The research suggests tepary bean as an alternate forage option to soybeans for producers and encourages further research to define management strategies for growing tepary bean in extensive production settings.