The current cultivation practices have made the soils deficient in nitrogen and therefore, artificial application of nitrogen is critical to obtain substantial biomass production. A field trial to evaluate the effect of nitrogen levels viz., 75, 100 and 125 kg ha-1 and harvesting times i.e. 45, 60 and 75 days after sowing (DAS) on forage production and quality of millet hybrid (FH-50) was conducted at Agronomic Research Farm, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan during 2009. The treatments were laid out in randomized complete block design (RCBD) with factorial arrangements in four replications. Both the forage yield and quality were significantly differed among the nitrogen rates and harvesting times. The nitrogen application has positive impact on the agronomic and forage quality components and also remained helpful to off set the negative impact of maturity. Plant received low rates of nitrogen were deficient in crude protein (CP), crude fibre (CF), ash and fat contents than plant received higher nitrogen rates. The protein, fat and ash contents were decreased with the advancement in crop growth period and this decreased was associated with increase in CF concentration. Moreover, late harvesting resulted a great loss in leaves which reduces the forage quality. The harvesting at 60 DAS produce fresh and dry matter yield with 8.72% CP, 29.72% CF, 11.21% ash, 1.37% fat and 48.99% nitrogen free extract (NFE) contents. One day delay in harvesting resulted to a loss of 0.072%, 0.081%, 0.008% CP, ash and fat, respectively in 45 days old plants. The nitrogen application at the rate of 125 kg ha-1 and harvesting at 60 DAS seems to be the best compromise between forage yield and quality for millet hybrid FH-50.
Key words: Nitrogen levels, harvesting dates, dry matter, nutritional value, millet hybrid.
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