Combine the traditional Texas AgriLife Extension Service field day with a technical conference and that’s what is attracting more than 150 people to the two-day Great Plains Sorghum Conference and Sorghum Improvement Conference of North America Aug. 11-12 in Amarillo.

“We will be bringing in experts from throughout the country to speak,” said Dr. Brent Bean, AgriLife Extension agronomist and coordinator of the event. He said the technical side of things is attracting researchers, specialists and seed industry personnel from outside the region as well.

“Our area producers are welcome to come listen to all of these presentations, but they might be more interested in the field tours we have scheduled,” Bean said. “These are free and open to the public.”

Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 11 and the technical presentations will begin at 8:10 a.m. at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 6500 W. Amarillo Blvd. The United Sorghum Checkoff program is also helping sponsor the event.

Issues to be discussed include: sorghum genomics and biotechnology, sorghum improvements, sorghum and legume intercropping, strip-till sorghum, low lignin sorghums, diseases and pests affecting sorghum and electron microscopy scanning to identify starch.

The presentations will be followed by afternoon tours from 1:30-5:30 p.m. of either Advanta Seed or Richardson Seed nursery and a dairy, Bean said. Advanta, formerly Garrison and Townsend Seed, and Richardson are regional leaders in producing new grain and forage sorghum hybrids.

From 8-10:30 a.m. on Aug. 12, the group will move to the field tour at the Texas AgriLife Research-Bush Farm and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service Conservation and Production Research Laboratory at Bushland.

Tour stops will cover: weed control, which will feature several new herbicides and technologies that will greatly increase the ability of farmers to manage hard-to-control weeds in sorghum; limited irrigation and scheduling; forage sorghums for silage and hay grown under both dryland and irrigation; and new bioenergy sorghum hybrids, including some sweet sorghums.

Once the field tour is completed, the technical conference will reconvene at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Amarillo. Late morning and early afternoon topics will include: breeding priorities; tools to improve biomass for biofuels; tracking lipid levels in dried distiller’s grains from grain sorghum; and sorghum yields in acid soils.

Bean said producers should feel free to attend all or part of the conference and field tours at no charge. This will include a free lunch on both days and dinner on Aug. 11.

A complete agenda can be found at: http://amarillo.tamu.edu under “Upcoming Events”.