Planning for Next Season

By Brent Bean, Sorghum Checkoff Agronomist
Lubbock, Texas

As coaches preach in football, there really is no such thing as an “off-season.” The so-called “off-season” is actually when the most important decisions and training takes place to set the stage for the next victorious season.

The same could be said of sorghum production. Here are a couple of winter and early spring considerations for farmers looking to maximize sorghum productivity and profitability.

Moisture and Fertilization
In dry environments, it is usually best to leave sorghum stalks standing throughout the winter and early spring. Standing stalks will help prevent snow from blowing off of the field, resulting in more water being stored in the soil profile. And retaining more moisture in the soil sets the foundation for your Standing stalks also help reduce erosion from wind and rain.

Farmers should collect soil samples for analysis to determine the amount of fertilizer that will be needed for the next crop. As with moisture, establishing appropriate fertilization level is crucial for crop development. Soybean and cotton farmers should remember that those crops tend to yield more when following sorghum, and this should be kept in mind when determining the amount of fertilizer that will be needed.

Research shows that sorghum requires approximately 1.2 lb of N for every bushel of grain produced.

Hybrid Selection and Budget
Sorghum farmers should begin thinking about hybrid choice for next season. They should diligently review university and company data in selecting a hybrid. Many seed companies have extensive seed guides and agronomists on-hand to help find the seed that best fits the agronomic profile of your specific fields.

Yield is always important, but other key characteristics to consider are:

- standibility
- disease and insect resistance

It is always a good idea to plant more than one hybrid in order to spread and mitigate risk. As they saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket!

Lastly, in preparing next year's crop budgets, check with state extension specialists to compare input costs of sorghum compared to other crops. The cost of growing sorghum is generally less than many of the other traditional crops.