Sorghum Solutions

December 22, 2009 06:00 PM

Pam Smith, Farm Journal Seeds & Production Editor

Sorghum grower Earl Roemer is happy his crop is finally getting a little respect. The Healy, Kan., producer and chair of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) Producers Research Committee has long wished for the weed control options afforded other crops.

However, little has been done to produce sorghum varieties that are resistant to common herbicides. That's why USCP is funding research to find new over-the-top grass control solutions to give sorghum growers better management opportunities and flexibility in crop rotations.

Kansas State University (KSU) agronomist Kassim Al-Khatib notes that sorghum is primarily grown in dry regions and therefore, preplant herbicides can perform poorly or fail without adequate precipitation.

There are herbicides that can be applied after the crop is established to control weeds, but these products can potentially harm the crop.

"There is a considerable need for over-the-top grass control in sorghum,” Al-Khatib says.

KSU has identified traits resistant to herbicides, such as acetolactate synthase (ALS) and acetyl-coenzyme A carboxylase (ACCase), in some sorghum varieties. "This new technology will allow producers outstanding weed control and flexibility in crop rotations,” Al-Khatib says.

Weed control herbicides make the rotation to sorghum difficult because sorghum has little resistance to these products. Al-Khatib says growers could see this new technology available by 2012.

"ALS- and ACCase-resistant sorghum hybrids will provide over-the-top protection that was not available before. This is one example of how checkoff dollars are used to fund research that meets an important need for producers,” Roemer says.

You can email Pam Smith at

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