October 3, 2022
Allen Ramsey, allen.ramsey@ttu.edu 

Texas Tech Taking Lead in $1.6M Sorghum Project  

Krishna Jagadish leads a team of researchers looking to improve grain sorghum. 

Texas Tech University is taking the lead in one of the largest projects ever funded by the  United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP).  

Krishna Jagadish, a professor and the Thornton Distinguished Chair in the Department  of Plant and Soil Sciences, received $1.6 million in funding in partnership with Texas  A&M University, Kansas State University, the U.S Department of Agriculture’s  Agriculture Research Service locations in Lubbock and Manhattan, Kansas, and  industry partners. Haydee Laza, an assistant professor of plant physiology in the Davis  College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, is a co-investigator on the project  as well.  

Titled “Transforming grain sorghum’s climatic yield potential and grain quality through  trait-based ideotype breeding,” the project is designed to maximize the sorghum crop by  determining effective trait combinations for different environments.  

“The project brings together major public sorghum improvement programs in the U.S.,”  Jagadish said. “The trans-disciplinary team aims to achieve the project goals by  integrating agronomy, crop physiology, breeding, machine learning and crop and climate  modeling.”  

Over the course of the project researchers, led by Jagadish, hope to address the need  of developing trait-based ideotype sorghum hybrids specifically targeted to thrive in  water-deficient areas and in areas considered favorable for growing sorghum.  

“For the first time in modern history, we have an opportunity to reimagine the  architecture of the plant and how it operates,” USCP CEO Tim Lust said. “From drought  tolerance to photosynthetic efficiency, this stellar team of physiology experts will leave  no stone unturned in pursuit of a more productive, efficient sorghum plant for our  farmers.” 

The project is scheduled to last five years and incorporate a number of students seeking  both master’s and doctoral degrees, giving it the added benefit of helping train the next  generation of leaders in the sorghum industry.  

“This project is timely and will be a difference-maker as we strive to improve crop  resilience and feed the world,” said Plant and Soil Sciences Department Chair Glen 

Ritchie. “The collaborators on this project are top experts in sorghum physiology and  stress tolerance and they will make a global impact with their success.” Jagadish is joined on the project by Haydee Laza, an assistant professor of plant  physiology in the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources 

About The United Sorghum Checkoff Program

The USCP is a producer-funded organization that is dedicated to improving the  sorghum industry through research, promotion and education. For more information  about the USCP and other sorghum promotion projects please visit  www.sorghumcheckoff.com.