Great Plains Sorghum Improvement and Utilization Center
To develop a regional effect by pooling and integrating the research and extension resources for sorghum improvement, utilization, production and marketing located at Kansas State University, Texas Tech University and Texas A&M University. This would include USDA-ARS scientists located on those campuses with assigned sorghum responsibilities. These efforts are aimed at integrating efforts among the three institutions to develop a series of multi-institutional and multidisciplinary teams which will bring together new technologies and knowledge, focusing on improving profitability in each stage of sorghum production, processing and marketing. The research is aimed at:
- Improving the yield potential and production efficiency, along with food, feed and bioenergy value of sorghum, through plant breeding and genetics
- Developing new uses for sorghum in food and non-food applications, emphasizing the grain’s desirable characteristics such as the absence of gluten and a low glycemic index
- Identifying more efficient production strategies that will enhance water and nutrient use, particularly N, and provide new options for the control of weeds and pests, to increase sorghum yield and profits
- Expanding research on sorghum as a bioenergy crop uniquely adapted to drier regions of the United States
- Providing market and policy analysis, in addition to developing educational programs, for different sorghum-based products and production systems to increase profitability of all segments of the U.S. sorghum industry
Kansas State University initiated the Center for Sorghum Improvement in 2001. The coordinated interdisciplinary research effort has led to the development of sorghum germplasm and parent lines with improved stalk quality, grain yield potential and drought tolerance. The United States is a major producer of grain sorghum, with 7.2 million acres harvested in 2008. Total grain production was estimated at 472 million bushels. Despite the importance of the crop for farmers in drought prone environments and the many new opportunities for sorghum utilization in the bioenergy, bioproducts and food industries, particularly gluten-free foods, relatively few public or private resources are being invested in research on genetic improvement, production, or innovative use of the various types of sorghum.
- Increased Yields. Because sorghum uniquely adapts to environmental extremes of abiotic stress, a comprehensive research program was initiated in 2007 to increase sorghum yield on limited water supplies
- European Union Market Growth. The European Union market for U.S. sorghum has expanded rapidly in the last two years, outpacing traditional U.S. markets like Japan and Mexico. U.S. exports to the European Union in 2007 and 2008 have grown to three and 10 times the average 2000-2006 export level, respectively.
- Searchable Database. A sorghum Web site was developed with a searchable database populated with publications covering all aspects of sorghum production and marketing. Other outreach activities have included publication of a newsletter and organization of a field day for sorghum professionals
Lead Agency: Kansas State University
Partners: Texas Tech University
Texas A&M University
USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture