Evaluating Early-Maturing, Cold-Tolerant White Sorghum Cultivars

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2015: $29,998.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:

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  • Agronomic: sorghum (sweet)


  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    The Farm Breeding Club (FBC) fosters farmer-led participatory research, partnering farmer members with research agronomists, plant breeders, grain-handlers, processors, and end-users to expand farmers’ cropping options. Retired plant breeder and ND native, Matt Kolding, gave the FBC early-maturing, cold-tolerant lines of white sorghum. Traditionally a southern crop, sorghum is extremely drought and heat tolerant. It is a high-value, alternative gluten-free food grain, as well as a high protein livestock feed. Crop diversity is essential to managing soil health, pests, disease, weeds, and risk in the face of climate change. Sorghum adds a new warm season grain crop to farmers’ cropping options.


    FBC farmers, NDSU research scientists, and processors will conduct three on-farm replicated variety trials (mother trials), two additional on-farm single-replicate trials (daughter trials), participatory evaluation field days, and milling tests of these cold-tolerant white sorghum lines. Four of the five farms hosting the variety trials and demonstration plots are certified organic; all of the farms are focused on sustainable regional production systems for value-added grains and seed.


    Participating farmers, researchers, and processors will identify the white sorghum lines best-adapted to production in northern tier states, such as North Dakota, paired with desirable market and milling qualities, ensuring market acceptance.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective 1: Evaluate 106 sorghum lines with known cold-tolerance traits for adaptation and performance in North Dakota.       

    Objective 2: Identify sorghum accessions with marketable milling qualities paired with agronomic performance in northern tier states.

    Objective 3: Demonstrate the agronomic and market feasibility of white sorghum as an alternative crop option for northern growers.

    Objective 4: Disseminate variety trial data and project results to prospective growers and potential markets.

    Objective 5: Obtain funding for two more years of replicated variety trials, identifying and providing farmers, processors and consumers with seed for the most desirable sorghum accession.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.