USCP Agronomy Check


   The winter months are the time to consider crop selection for the coming growing season. Once crop selection has been made, the next step growers typically make, which is the foundation for successful grain sorghum production, is selecting which hybrids or varieties to plant. Hybrids can vary greatly in their yield potential, depending on the environment, making it very important to select a hybrid well adapted to the area. 
   Hybrid selection
   There are several sources of information regarding sorghum hybrids. Finding out which hybrids successful sorghum producers plant in your area is a good place to start. At the National Sorghum Producers website, county, state and national yield contest winners are listed each year, along with the winning hybrids. Many state extension services conduct annual variety trials, making them a good source of unbiased yield results. Obtain these yield results from local county agents or by visiting the variety-testing websites of most state extension services. The Sorghum Checkoff website also maintains links to various state variety trials. 
   In choosing a hybrid, it is best, when possible, to examine its performance over multiple locations and years. The final stop in selecting a hybrid should be the individual seed company representatives who can give additional specifics concerning their hybrids. 
Important traits

   There are many traits other than yield and local adaptation that should be considered, but particularly important in the Mid-South is standability, disease and insect resistance, and head exertion.
   For standability, be sure to look at not only the company ratings, but also trial results from as many sources as possible. In any maturity group, early, medium or late, there are hybrids that consistently lodge worse than others do. These should be avoided, especially on fields with a history of frequent lodging.
   The most important disease in the Mid-South is anthracnose. Consider company ratings for this disease. From an insect standpoint, sugarcane aphid is now the most important pest. Each year, entomologists and agronomists are identifying more hybrids with at least some tolerance to sugarcane aphid. Planting one of these tolerant hybrids may not eliminate the need for an insecticide application but can delay when the application has to be made and possibly eliminate the need for multiple applications. However, only plant a tolerant hybrid if it has been shown to be adapted to your area with the yield potential desired.
   Head exertion is less important than the other traits mentioned, but good head exertion can greatly improve harvesting efficiency.
   Yield monitors have made it much easier to do on-farm hybrid testing. Consider planting a subset of a few hybrids each year to help identify which hybrids are best for each farm. ∆
   BRENT BEAN: Agronomist, United Sorghum Checkoff Program

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