Grain sorghum is a drought-tolerant crop known for its efficient water use. However, adoption has been limited on the High Plains because farmers believe grain sorghum is not a suitable crop due to cool night temperatures which limit heat unit accumulation and delay physiological maturity. However, researchers have demonstrated in the High Plains of Nebraska and Colorado that grain sorghum production is possible in most years. In environments with less than 21 inches of plant available water, research suggests grain sorghum to be a superior choice compared to corn for both yield and profitability. Recently, a group of interested Nebraska farmers have come together with desires to incorporate grain sorghum into their dryland cropping systems. They have made arrangements with a local elevator to receive the grain. However, they do not have experience with grain sorghum and worry about successfully growing the crop. This research and educational partnership with these growers will also benefit others across the region as we identify preferred methods to produce grain sorghum for the High Plains and other regions that are limited by short growing seasons or utilize double crops. Results will be shared with growers at field days, workshops, and through publications.
Project objectives from proposal:
Our objectives to be conducted on-farm with farmer cooperators will be: (1) to evaluate commercially available grain sorghum hybrids and experimental lines being developed in breeding programs for performance and adaptability to the High Plains region; (2) to determine the optimal planting date, row spacing, and population that will enable the crop to reach physiological maturity while also maximizing yield; (3) develop fertility recommendations for grain sorghum; (4) Disseminate research results through field days, extension and peer-reviewed publications, media outlets, and winter research updates to provide farmers with the knowledge and resources necessary to be successful growing dryland grain sorghum.