LUBBOCK, TEXAS, U.S. – U.S. sorghum saw breakthroughs in research, control of the soybean aphid and the emergence of a new market in aquaculture, according to the Sorghum Checkoff’s 2017 Annual Report.

As part of a collaboration between DuPont Pioneer and the Sorghum Checkoff, scientist discovered two sorghum haploid inducer lines, a breakthrough that will allow sorghum hybrids to move through the breeding pipeline quicker than ever before.

Farmers will now be able to access sorghum hybrids with desired traits like high yield, drought tolerance and sugarcane aphid tolerance faster than before, the report said.

The Sorghum Checkoff also partnered with Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Services (USDA-ARS) to release early generation selections of new sources of sorghum germplasm.

Breeders will use these unique genetics to help develop sorghum hybrids with needed and desired traits, the report said. This project was renewed two years ago as a five-year project with Texas A&M AgriLife Research after a successful previous five-year sorghum germplasm program.

In 2017, producers also were successful in managing the sugarcane aphid. Populations of the pest were down across the country, with no more than 15% of acres in south Texas infested and few fields in Kansas needed treatment.

Several factors contributed to this success, including improved management, evolving natural enemies and new research taking place, according to the report.  

Sorghum also experienced the emergence of a new market in aquaculture in 2017.

Results from a catfish feeding trial in Vietnam were finalized, showing no difference in sources of starch (sorghum, corn or cassava) on growth performance, fillet color or physical properties of feed pellets.

U.S. sorghum also contains no tannins and contains higher protein and amino acids, showing it can benefit aquaculture

Diets, the report said.

Other studies showed that sorghum can be used in pet food products, improving digestibility, enhancing circulating antioxidant levels and providing better blood sugar balance.

In Mexico, the use sorghum beyond traditional markets is being explored. Pet owners in Mexico are demanding new foods with better health attributes.

The Sorghum Checkoff and U.S. Grains Council hosted trade missions in 2017 in Mexico and Kansas to promote the inclusion of sorghum in pet food.