The United Sorghum Checkoff Program is currently funding research to showcase new over-the-top grass control solutions to allow sorghum growers better management opportunities and flexibility in crop rotations.

When asked about their main concerns regarding sorghum management, many producers have replied “weed control.” Due to a lack of funding, little has been done to produce sorghum varieties that are resistant to many common herbicides used on other crops.

Kansas State University (KSU) is currently researching a solution to the problem. Dr. Kassim Al-Khatib, Professor of Agronomy at KSU, says because sorghum is grown in primarily dry regions, 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 as well.

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

Kansas State University has identified traits that are resistant to herbicides such as Acetolactate synthase (ALS) and Acetyl co-enzyme-A carboxylase (ACCase) in some sorghum varieties. The incorporation of these traits into cultivated sorghum would produce an ALS and ACCase resistant plant, allowing for higher yields and flexibility for producers.

“This new technology will allow producers outstanding weed control and flexibility in crop rotations,” said Al-Khatib. Herbicides used for weed control in other crops make the rotation to sorghum difficult because sorghum has little resistance to these products. The development of a resistant variety will allow growers the option of planting sorghum following other crops. Al-Khatib says growers could potentially expect to see this new technology available by 2012.

Specifically the USCP has funded test plots and trials to demonstrate proper management techniques. These techniques are intended to educate growers on successful methods of using and protecting this over-the-top technology to produce higher yielding sorghum.

USCP Board Research Committee chair and sorghum producer Earl Roemer from Healy, Kan. said producers are in need of more crop protection options in order to see an increase in both yield and acres.

“ALS and ACCase resistant sorghum hybrids will provide an over-the-top protection technology that was not available to me or my fellow sorghum producers before. This is definitely one example of how producer checkoff dollars are utilized to fund research that meets an important need for them.”

The United Sorghum Checkoff Program is a producer funded organization that is dedicated to improving the sorghum industry through research, promotion and education. For more information about the USCP and other research projects please visit www.sorghumcheckoff.com.