Looking Beyond the Turnrow

Nathan LarsonBy: Kayla M. Wilkins, Communications Intern

Although drought tolerance, advancements in best management practices and increased yields may be easily seen by a farmer engaged in sorghum production, one Kansas farmer has found himself seeking more.

Nathan Larson of Riley, Kansas, is well-versed in sorghum production practices, but it was not until recently he found himself exposed to the vast aspects of the industry off the farm.

“I know how to raise grain sorghum,” said Larson, Leadership Sorghum Class II graduate, “but I didn’t know how the seed industry or the foreign markets were working.”

As a seasoned farmer and now a leader in the sorghum industry, he knows the importance of seeing and experiencing all aspects of sorghum production, research and trade. Larson stepped into a position on the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission three years ago, inspiring him to dig deeper into all aspects of the industry. It was this role that sparked his initial interest in Leadership Sorghum.

“I applied for Leadership Sorghum because of my position with the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission, and I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to learn about the parts of the sorghum industry that I did not have much experience with,” Larson said.

texas panhandle sessionSince Larson’s start on the Kansas commission, he said he has aided in making decisions about where producer checkoff dollars are going. He said his experience through Leadership Sorghum has given him greater perspective and helped prepare him to make insightful decisions on behalf of Kansas sorghum producers.

Larson said he can attest to the value in participating in Leadership Sorghum and recommends sorghum farmers to apply. He said being a participant gave him the unique opportunity to see and experience things he otherwise would not have, including touring the export ports in Houston and meeting with industry leaders in Washington, D.C.

“This has been one of the best programs I have been involved with,” Larson said. “[The Sorghum Checkoff] put together a quality class in which you learn not only the ins and outs of the sorghum industry but the people involved, too. It definitely puts a face to a name and builds a good network.”

Larson said his time in Leadership Sorghum made him a more informed producer able to provide valuable conversation to the table as a member of the Kansas commission. He said he can now look beyond the turnrow and use his new-found knowledge for the betterment of the sorghum industry.

“Leadership Sorghum came at just the right time for me because I was able to learn about the whole industry at the same time I was serving on the commission,” Larson said.

Nathan Larson is a graduate of Leadership Sorghum Class II. The program was designed by the Sorghum Checkoff to develop the next generation of leaders for the sorghum industry. For more information about the program, visit www.leadershipsorghum.com. Leadership Sorghum Class III applications will be available through April 30, 2016.