New leader tapped for Center for Sorghum Improvement

by Eric Schroeder
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KSU Sorghum managing director Sarah Sexton-Bowser
Sarah Sexton-Bowser, managing director of the Center for Sorghum Improvement.

MANHATTAN, KANSAS, U.S. — Sarah Sexton-Bowser has been named managing director of the Center for Sorghum Improvement based at Kansas State University (KSU) in Manhattan, Kansas, U.S., effective Sept. 12.

The center is focused on expanding markets for sorghum and increasing the average national sorghum yield from 61.95 bushels per acre to 100 bushels per acre by 2025 by funding research in such areas as plant breeding and field-level management.

“The new Center for Sorghum Improvement has been a long time coming,” said John Floros, dean of KSU’s College of Agriculture and director of KSU Research and Extension. “Featuring collaboration between the university, and national and state entities, this cooperative agreement will make KSU the world’s destination for sorghum research and outreach. Sorghum producers in Kansas, the U.S., and beyond will be impacted by the center’s efforts. We value the strong leadership Sarah brings to the center, based on her years of experience and contacts in the sorghum industry, and look forward to working with her.”

Sexton-Bowser has an extensive background in the grain industry. She most recently was a regional director with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, and earlier was vice-president of membership services and external affairs for the Kansas Grain and Feed Association, Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association and Kansas Association of Ethanol Processors.

She received a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics with a specialty in political science at Kansas State University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas.

“The sorghum industry is prime for a focused, collaborative vision and vision execution to drive the domestic sorghum industry,” Sexton-Bowser said. “Farmers need enhanced cropping options to meet today's demands to continually push for farm efficiency and productivity. The center is uniquely positioned to foster collaboration targeted toward enhancing productivity, value and demand for the domestic sorghum farmer.”

In addition to a commitment to increase crop yield, the agreement between KSU, the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and the Sorghum Checkoff calls for efforts to increase demand for sorghum to 1.25 million bushels by 2025. This includes the expansion of international markets, food use within the United States, livestock feeding, ethanol production and specialty products.

Sexton-Bowser and her team will work to decrease the trading discount of sorghum to corn to 2% from 4.6% by 2025.

The new center and its work is supported by a $2 million investment from the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and $2 million from the Sorghum Checkoff, both made in annual payments of $200,000 for 10 years, as well as an $800,000 investment from KSU.

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