Sorghum Ready for Center Stage

03:19PM May 11, 2020
( Farm Journal )

After years of hiding in the shadows of corn and soybeans, sorghum is finally getting the attention of the scientific and trade community. The small grain recently acquired tolerances to certain herbicides and the attention of a new trade partner.

“They’ve always said herbicide tolerance [in sorghum] is two years out, and then the next year say it’s another two years out and just kept saying that,” says Tanner Antonick, with Alta Seed. “For the first time we’re able to say it’s coming this year.”

Alta seed has a soft launch of the new igrowth herbicide tolerant technology in 2020, with a full launch in 2021. This year expect to see demo plots and efficacy examples throughout the U.S.

“Traditionally the only way to control grass weeds is with a pre-emergent herbicide,” Antonick says. “This is the first time we can go in-season, after emergence with over-the-top grass and weed control. Our parent company UPL will be releasing the companion product that should have approval this upcoming summer.”

The new sorghum variety will be paired with an imidazolinone herbicide and uses a non-GMO trait to confer tolerance. The trait was found in 2007 and is currently used in Argentina and Australia.

Trade opportunity

A new agreement is opening doors for sorghum in Vietnam. A new pest risk assessment was approved by USDA and Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which means sorghum can be used in the country for high-value uses such as pet food, liquor and in aquaculture.

This agreement follows nearly five years of discussion among the countries. Sorghum could be attractive for buyers who want to diversify energy sources and find feed sources that store well. In addition, sorghum is gluten-free and non-biotech, which is desirable for the pet food industry.

USDA is predicting sorghum acres to increase in 2020 when compared to 2019 and 2018. In its prospective plantings report USDA forecasted 5,820,000 acres to be planted of the grain, a 22% increase over last year.