Oklahoma Continues to Grow Best Sorghum in the U.S.

Listen to Reagan Calk talk with Dr. Josh Lofton about growing sorghum varieties in Oklahoma.

At the Oklahoma Sorghum Producers meeting in Enid, Associated Farm Editor, Reagan Calk, had the chance to visit with OSU Extension Specialist for Cropping Systems, Josh Lofton, about his work growing sorghum varieties in Oklahoma.

During his presentation, Lofton talked about his work with sorghum variety trials and about what sets Oklahoma sorghum apart from other states.

“One thing that we try to do in Oklahoma is we are accessibly open,” Lofton said. “Companies can come any day of the week, any time of day, we make sure that if we work with a grower that, they know that companies might be stopping by. So, we are very open, and we encourage everybody to stop by.”

Lofton said that during variety trials, he aims to provide the best-unbiased information for each seed variety.

“We typically look at varieties during the course of the year as just a number and not individual companies or varieties,” Lofton said. “They all get intermixed, and they all have the potential to do the absolute best.”

Oklahoma has preferable conditions to grow sorghum, Lofton said, regardless of what system it is to be grown in.

In these sorghum variety trials, Lofton talked about the role played by variability.

“If I put a yield number by a variety, I want to be able to stand by that number,” Lofton said.

Many times, Lofton said, if one plot has a certain number of bushels and the next few plots of the same variety all yield a different number of bushels, that trial is not used.

“We just don’t use that trial,” Lofton said. “We don’t show that data. We give it to the companies, but then we don’t give it to the Oklahoma growers because I can’t stand by that number. Our biggest thing is to say that in that field, at that location, this year, we are very confident that the variety yielded a certain value.”

Lofton said one practice used in the state of Oklahoma is weeding out varieties that come down the genetic pipe that may not fit well in the Southern Plains. Varieties that do not perform well in the Southern Plains, Lofton said, may be a better fit in a different region.

“We get some varieties, that I am not afraid to tell a company, ‘This is not good,’” Lofton said.

Lofton spoke on many interesting topics during his presentation at the meeting, one of those being the reevaluation of prussic acid and nitrate.

“The one thing that we came to the conclusion this year, and the last couple of years, is situations to where we thought prussic acid shouldn’t be an issue, or nitrate shouldn’t be an issue, we found that reports or testing reports found that they were an issue,” Lofton said. “I don’t necessarily think that what we are doing is incorrect. I think what we are doing is the best situation we have right now.”

Everything has some variability to it, Lofton said, but that variability just needs to be corrected to see what the best direction is for sorghum growers.

“We look forward to working with Texas A&M in the next three years to kind of evaluate what the best foot forward is for sorghum growers in the state of Oklahoma and the southern Great Plains as a whole,” Lofton said. “We look to be working with Texas A&M in the next couple of years trying to reevaluate and readdress what prussic acid is, where it is sensitive, and where we can make steps forward to get better estimations of nitrate and prussic acid and where they could be an issue.”