How much sorghum will be planted in South Dakota this year? The preseason intentions were estimated to be 230,000 acres, which is 80,000 and 30,000 more acres than 2011 and 2012, respectively.
These values are not surprising given the continuation of the drought, even though reductions in severity are occurring. The low water use threshold or water thriftiness of sorghum is an important characteristic which can help producers manage climate variability and reduce multiple crop failures especially in hot and dry years while increasing diversity in their crop rotations. What agronomic information and resources are available to South Dakota producers here in the northern fringe (Figure 1) of the sorghum growing region?
Similar to corn, grain sorghum hybrid selection is something to spend time on each year and not take lightly. It is especially important to find hybrids that will yield well and consistently mature before fall frosts occur. Third-party testing by SDSU for grain sorghum hybrid performance was re-initiated in 2010. Testing results from 2011 and 2012 show that less than 44% percent of grain sorghum hybrids are considered top performers for yield in South Dakota. The SDSU Crop Testing team will be expanding the grain sorghum program this year due to sponsorship by the United Sorghum Checkoff Program. There will be 53 different grain sorghum hybrids from 10 companies tested at three locations (Pennington, Lyman, and Hughes) and yield results will be posted on iGrow.org this fall. To follow sorghum planting progress and growing conditions of the sorghum trials throughout the year, please visit the SDSU Extension Crop Testing Facebook page.
South-central (Lyman and Tripp county) South Dakota is the dominant sorghum growing region, and 4% of the crop has already been planted as of the week ending May 19. Grain sorghum is insurable in all but 7 counties in South Dakota. The final planting date for full insurance coverage is May 31 even though a little less than 50% of the crop is normally planted by that point. A warm minimum soil temperature of 65° F for germination and priority towards early spring-plant crops are two reasons for planting sorghum the middle of May through June.