In Kentucky, cool-season grasses produce ample forage in the spring and fall, but high temperatures and short-term drought stress often limits growth during the summer months. Warm-season annual grasses can fill this gap with relatively high quality forage when properly managed. Although most of us think about sorghum-sudangrass, sudangrass, and pearl millet as the main summer annual choices, two additional options for KY producers include crabgrass and foxtail millet.
Crabgrass is sometimes considered a weed, but possesses significant potential for supplying high quality summer forage. Additionally, it does not have prussic acid potential and is a poor host for the sugarcane aphid. A primary advantage of crabgrass is that it is well adapted to Kentucky and occurs naturally in most summer pastures, especially those that have been overgrazed. It is also highly palatable and a prolific reseeder.
Foxtail millet (German millet) is fine stemmed, has no prussic acid potential and is well suited for hay-making. Susceptibility to sugarcane aphid is not known. It is the lowest yielding of the summer annual grasses since it will not regrow after cutting. It is a good smother crop to be used before no-till seeding another crop such as tall fescue or alfalfa.~ Find the full list of publications at on the Forage Extension website including new publications for all the summer annual grasses.