Apply today's chemicals to a sorghum crop for grass control and the sorghum will be killed off also. But a solution could be only a few years away if Texas AgriLife Research plots are any indication.

Dr. Brent Bean, AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service agronomist, has test plots that demonstrate sorghum hybrids tolerant to herbicides typically associated with grass control.

The control is needed not only for annual grass control but also for Johnsongrass, Bean said. Because Johnsongrass is closely related to grain sorghum, herbicides typically used in crops such as cotton and corn cannot be used in sorghum.

A solution might be found with two sorghum hybrids originating from germplasm developed in the Kansas State University sorghum breeding program about five or six years ago. The germplasm development was funded by the National Grain Sorghum Producers Board and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program.

Commercial hybrids

The germplasm is now being developed into commercial hybrids by Pioneer Seed Co. and other seed companies, Bean said. Products labeled for use in these herbicide-tolerant hybrids will come from DuPont.

"There's a group of herbicides called ACCase herbicides," he told a group of producers at a recent field day. "You are familiar with those in herbicides like Fusilade, Poast, Select, Assure II and Fusion. They've been around a number of years and are used primarily for grass control in soybeans and cotton.

"You are also familiar with ALS herbicides typically used in corn, such as Resolve, Accent and Basis," Bean said. "The tolerant hybrids being developed will eventually be tolerant to both classes of herbicides."

What will be labeled for the ACCase-tolerant sorghum is Assure II, he said. There are actually two classes in the ACCase herbicide family, so not all of them will work. Bean has a plot of ACCase-tolerant sorghum that he sprayed with Select and it killed the sorghum.

"One will kill the sorghum, so Assure2 is what you want to use. With the other group of sorghums, they are going to be SU-tolerant for those herbicides.