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Exploring New Sorghum Varieties for Upper Midwest Forage
Iowa Ag Connection - 09/26/2023

A new USDA-supported project will test and release several new sorghum cultivars that promise high-yielding, nutritious forage for beef and dairy cattle operations in the north-central states.

Sorghum is a productive and versatile annual crop used worldwide for livestock feed, but it has traditionally been grown in warmer regions. The new cultivars are being developed to thrive in the cooler climate of the Upper Midwest.

The project is led by Maria Salas-Fernandez, associate professor of agronomy at Iowa State University. She says that sorghum has a number of advantages over other forage crops, including corn: it is cheaper, requires fewer inputs, and is better suited to the region's climate and cropping practices.

The project team will evaluate the new sorghum cultivars in regional trials at eight locations in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. They will also work to develop management recommendations for the new cultivars.

The goal of the project is to make new sorghum germplasm available to beef and dairy producers in northern states to improve the profitability and sustainability of their farming operations. The new cultivars will also be valuable to small and mid-size seed companies.

In addition to her work on sorghum forage, Salas-Fernandez is also developing sorghum strains tailored for biomass production in northern latitudes. These strains have shown promising results in tests in Iowa and Michigan.

The development of new sorghum cultivars for forage and biomass production is a significant advance for agriculture in the Upper Midwest. Sorghum is a valuable crop that can help farmers to improve their bottom line and reduce their environmental impact.

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