Research Results to Emerge in 2016

Ten years in the making, over-the-top grass control is now a reality for sorghum growers across the country. But the Sorghum Checkoff won’t stop there.

Among other research projects, growers should expect to see developments within the double haploid project as well as new information and technology regarding the sugarcane aphid this year.

The recently approved, active ingredient nicosulfuron in DuPont™ Zest™ herbicide will complement the non-GM DuPont™ Inzen™ herbicide-tolerance sorghum trait. The approval came after a 10-year partnership between Kansas State University and DuPont Crop Protection, with support from the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission, National Sorghum Producers and the Sorghum Checkoff.

It is anticipated farmer trials of one Inzen™ grain sorghum hybrid will be grown throughout the Sorghum Belt in 2016. Under its Alta Seeds brand, Advanta US will demonstrate the technology in moderately-sized plots, illustrating the effectiveness on grassy weeds and the yield potential of Inzen™ sorghum. It is expected additional hybrids will be tested or made commercially available in 2017 and 2018 with genetics from both Advanta and Pioneer.

“There are a lot of areas in the U.S. where grass is a severe problem, making it challenging to grow sorghum,” said Brent Bean, Ph.D., Sorghum Checkoff agronomist. “This technology will help producers to control grass while reaping the benefits of the crop, and it should open up a lot of acres for the use of sorghum.”

In 2015, the Sorghum Checkoff invested $350,000 in a collaborative project with Dow AgroSciences to meet the challenge of the sugarcane aphid. Twenty-three scientists from 12 states were involved in this effort, and results were shared at a research exchange meeting in early 2016, allowing for more information to be relayed to growers regarding best management practices.

In an effort to further build upon knowledge gained in 2015, the Sorghum Checkoff is reinvesting in sugarcane aphid research this year. The Sorghum Checkoff is slated to invest up to $300,000 in a similar research platform in 2016, working with both Dow AgroSciences and Bayer CropScience as well as researchers and entomologists across the U.S. This time around, the research will focus on treatment of late-season infestations, thresholds relating to both susceptible hybrids and hybrids that offer some tolerance to the sugarcane aphid, and treating for the sugarcane aphid in the presence of other insects such as sorghum midge and head worms.

“I think the positive outlook is even in the presence of the sugarcane aphid last year, we still set a national yield record of 77 bushels per acre,” Bean said. “We learned a lot about how to control the aphid last year, so if we end up with a sugarcane aphid issue in 2016, we will be a lot better prepared to control it and prevent yield loss while making a profit.”

Positive results are also emerging from the three-year project with DuPont Pioneer in double haploid development. The project, which is approximately 50 percent complete at this time, has seen significant strides in bringing double haploid technology to sorghum.

Two preliminary lines have been identified as possible inducers, which is a major first step in developing double haploids. Several thousand more candidates are currently being evaluated. This year, it is expected the early findings will be confirmed while additional haploid inducers are sought out in the world collection.

“Double haploid technology will greatly accelerate the breeding process,” said Cleve Franks, Ph.D., sorghum research scientist at DuPont Pioneer. “It allows you to strongly leverage a number of other technologies, such as genomic predictions, marker-assisted breeding, and precision phenotyping.”