Seed Tour Showcases Sorghum Seed Genetics

Advancing sorghum seed genetics is a direct connection to innovation in growers’ fields. The past five years have indicated an accelerated emphasis on the advancement of sorghum seed genetics, and the sorghum seed industry is on track to deliver innovative products to growers.

To showcase these seed innovations to sorghum growers and agricultural media, the Sorghum Checkoff hosted a seed industry tour Sept. 9-10, 2014, in the Texas Panhandle where an estimated 80 percent of the global hybrid sorghum seed is produced.

Throughout the tour, attendees were given a close-up view of the sorghum industry’s public and private breeding nurseries.

During the first stop of the tour, attendees visited Nuseed/Richardson Seed in Vega where they learned about the processes and packaging of sorghum seed as well as the company’s work on improving both forage and grain sorghum. Richardson Seed also highlighted their work on the sorghum conversion program, which entails converting exotic sorghum lines into usable material for the industry.

Richardson Seed
Richardson Seed CFO David Drinnon overview's facility's genetic research.

At the Advanta U.S. seed research plots, the group heard about the company’s work on both forage and grain sorghums. Advanta introduced the group to the work they have been doing with ALS herbicide tolerance, disease tolerance, standability, increased tillering and more.

Sorghum Seed Tour attendees learn about Advanta's work with ALS herbicide tolerance.

The third stop included a tour of Pioneer’s research facility in Plainview, which also doubles as the processing and bagging facility for all Pioneer sorghum seed. Most notably, Pioneer highlighted and explained their work on double haploids in sorghum.

DuPont Pioneer Sorghum Research Scientist Cleve Franks explains what characteristics to look for in a double haploid plant.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service station in Lubbock briefed the group of their primary goal, to release germplasm and breeding lines that can be directly used by seed companies and other institutions. Specific traits these sorghum breeders are working toward include multi-seed hybrids, drought tolerance and stay green attributes.

Successful Farmer Crops Editor Bill Spiegel captures USDA-ARS Laboratory Director Dr. John Burke explaining multi-seed characteristics.

To round off the tour, attendees visited Chromatin’s research plots in Idalou. Chromatin discussed their focus on increased adaptation, yield, disease resistance, better standability and improved digestibility in livestock feeding.

Chromatin's Larry Lambright briefs group over company's research projects.

While advancing sorghum genetics is a complicated and lengthy process, the sorghum seed industry tour made evident the key to advancement in sorghum seed genetics – finding solutions to help American growers have a more viable and profitable crop.