Weed management is one of the biggest concerns for grain sorghum producers, but Kansas State University scientists at Manhattan are finding ways to remedy the problem.

“Research has shown that heavy weed infestations can reduce grain sorghum yields by 50 percent,” said Kassim Al-Khatib, K-State professor of weed physiology. “In addition, weeds may decrease grain quality, increase insect and disease pressure, and increase harvest difficulty.”

Now, however, K-State researchers have developed a herbicide- resistant grain sorghum line, Al-Khatib said. It is tolerant to such acetolactate synthase (ALS)-inhibitor herbicides as Steadfast, Accent, Resolve, and Ally. This tolerance seems likely to give grain sorghum growers a new tool in their efforts to control weeds.

“This technology has excellent potential for controlling broadleaf and grassy weeds in sorghum, using post-emergence herbicides,” he said, adding that he expects producer acceptance to be high because no post-emergence herbicide is now available for managing grassy weeds in sorghum.

K-State's work is moving forward to developing ALS-resistant sorghum with several seed companies. The university team involved in the project is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's program for Minor Use Pesticides, as well, to register the use of Steadfast herbicide on ALS-resistant sorghum.

“In addition, we are currently evaluating several herbicide programs to identify the most effective ones for Kansas,” Al-Khatib said.

The K-State team is planning to use this year's research to refine the recommended herbicide program before the herbicide-resistant hybrids can be available in the market, he said