The 2008 Joint Meeting of the Society for Range Management and the America Forage and Grassland Council.

Thursday, January 31, 2008 - 10:20 AM

Productivity and Persistence in Mississippi of Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) Cultivars Bred for High and Low Sesquiterpene Lactones

Jimmy R. Parish1, Richard H. Watson2, Bisoondat Macoon1, Joyce G. Foster3, Rocky Lemus1, and Allen S. Hubbard4. (1) Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi State University, P. O. Box 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762, (2) Forage Improvement, AgResearch Limited, Cnr Springs Rd & Gerald St, Private Bag 4749, Christchurch, New Zealand, (3) Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center, USDA, Agriculture Research Service, 1224 Airport Rd, Beaver, WV 25813-9423, (4) Animal and Dairy Sciences, Mississippi State University, P. O. Box 9815, Mississippi State, MS 39762

Chicory contains sesquiterpene lactones (SL), secondary plant metabolites that may prove beneficial to the persistence and productivity of chicory as a forage crop in the southeastern USA.  The objectives of this study were to determine the dry matter (DM) yield, persistence, nutritive value, and SL level of three chicory cultivars:  ‘Grasslands Puna’, ‘Grasslands Puna II’, and ‘Grasslands Choice’.  Plots (3 × 3 m) of each cultivar were established during fall 2004 in a randomized complete block design with five replicates.  Even applications of N fertilizer (50 kg N ha-1 each) were done in March, May, July, and September of 2005 and 2006.  Dry herbage samples were weighed for DM yield and analyzed for IVDMD, NDF, ADF, and CP.  Sesquiterpene lactone levels were determined by HPLC.  Establishment and annual decline in stand density were unaffected by cultivar. Mean stand density was 68% and 36% in Years 1 and 2, respectively. Total annual yield for Year 1 (14.2 Mg ha-1) was close to 1.5-fold that of Year 2 (9.9 Mg ha-1).  Seasonal effects were observed across years for DM yield, which are likely due to the droughty conditions and stand decline in Year 2.  Cultivar affected DM yield during the spring each year. Choice was greater than Puna (pooled across years), while Puna II was intermediate between Puna and Choice.  No differences in nutritive value were observed among cultivars; however, there were seasonal differences. Overall, chicory has high nutritional value with the potential to achieve high liveweight gains in ruminant livestock.  There were clear cultivar and seasonal effects on SL levels; however, this did not appear to be linked to plant productivity or persistence.  These results indicate that chicory may offer a productive high quality forage crop for Mississippi’s grazing livestock producers.