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Grain Sorghum Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Grain Sorghum FAQs

Pioneer® Seeds has the an extensive range of proven sorghum hybrids in all regions and growing environments. To determine the best grain sorghum hybrid for your growing environment, visit our sorghum hybrids page.

As a general rule, medium-late maturing sorghums are higher yielding - particularly under conditions of good moisture and nutrients. However, as moisture conditions become more limiting, earlier-maturing hybrids will have greater yield reliability.

Hybrids with medium to medium-quick maturity are likely to flower in 60-65 days when sown early, and 50-55 days when sown later under higher temperatures. Slower-maturing hybrids will generally give higher yields than quick-maturing hybrids when moisture and nutrients are not limiting. When moisture is limiting, the quicker-maturing grain sorghum hybrids may offer better growing reliability.

The choice of maturity will therefore depend on conditions at planting (e.g. soil type, stored water) and attitude of the grower to risk.

All commercial sorghum hybrids are tested by DAF with support from GRDC and are assigned official midge resistant (MR) ratings from 1-7. Ratings range from 1 (no resistance) to 8+ (practical field immunity)

Hybrid MR Rating
A66 7
G33 6
A75 6

 

The rating number is a measure of the amount of grain lost per visiting female midge per day. In practical terms, this means that a 7 rated hybrid, when exposed to the same midge pressures as a 1 rated hybrid, will sustain 7 times less damage.

More information here: The Sorghum Midge Tested Scheme - GRDC

Leaf rust can have a significant effect on grain yield, plant death and lodging so rust-resistant grain sorghum hybrids should be used for later plantings when rust infection can be severe. Early sorghum plantings are rarely affected by the disease.

Other diseases (e.g. head smut, leaf blight, grey leaf spot, anthracnose and Johnson grass mosaic virus) can have an affect on yield. Head smut is more likely to be a problem in early planted crops on the Darling Downs and northern New South Wales. The other diseases are more likely to cause problems in later planted crops.

There are no known clear varietal differences for ergot resistance in commercial varieties sown at recommended times. However, there are some hybrids that produce poor quantities of pollen (and are therefore more susceptible to the disease) if flowering during cool conditions.

There is a potential benefit in selecting quicker, low-tillering varieties that are not severely affected by cool conditions if sown late. Pioneer seeds selects hybrids with high pollen production characteristics.

It is well established that the colour of the pericarp (outer coat of the grain) - whether it is white, cream, red or bronze - has no effect on the feed value of grain sorghum. White, cream and yellow grains are more susceptible to weathering. Such hybrids should not be planted in the humid coastal regions. The colour of the grain endosperm, white (clear), heteroyellow (one parent yellow endosperm) or yellow, may have an effect on feed value but world literature is not conclusive on this point.

Planting Grain Sorghum

Planting time usually varies from September to January, depending on soil temperature and moisture early in the season. Crop failures are likely in central and southern regions from very early plantings in August-September and very late plantings in February-March due to cold conditions.

Planting at the early end of the range is preferred to avoid midge problems and to allow the option to double-crop a winter crop if sufficient rainfall is received. Best yields usually follow October plantings. These crops usually miss insect damage by midge. With late crops, midge will need to be managed by selecting midge-resistant sorghum hybrids and/or with the use of insecticide sprays.

Generally, planting mid-season sorghum hybrids is advisable as these hybrids are the best overall performers. Sorghum ergot disease risk can also be minimised by planting from mid-October to mid-January in southern Queensland so that flowering occurs between mid-December and mid-March, when the probability of ergot developing in sorghum florets is lowest. See sorghum pests and diseases for more detail on this disease and its management. In Central Queensland, use quick/mid maturing sorghum hybrids for rain-grown spring plantings or the main summer planting (late December to mid-February).

Aim for 15°C and rising. At 15°C sorghum takes 11-14 days to emerge. At 17°C it takes only 7-10 days.

26,000 to 37,000 (refer to bag label for an exact count).

Minimum prescribed 85%. Refer to bag label for the exact figure and the QR Code on the label for more detailed seed quality information for each batch of seed. You can scan the QR code on your bag of seed or enter the batch number directly on our online seed information page.

Lower plant populations in more marginal situations are preferred, and growers should increase populations where conditions are more favourable. Plant populations can be sown as low as 40 000 plants per hectare to 250 000 planters per hectare depending on various agronomic considerations. More information here: Grain sorghum (nsw.gov.au)

50 mm into moisture.

It is only necessary to plant seed deep enough to give it moisture to germinate and allow its roots to grow down through moist soil into subsoil moisture, ahead of the drying front.

Uniformity of plant population is important to hit targeted yield, so precision planters with press wheels are preferred. Grain sorghum seed should not be broadcast on the soil surface and then incorporated into the soil.

Herbicides containing the active ingredient metolachlor (viz, Dual, Dual Gold, Primextra and Primextra Gold) can seriously damage sorghum plants.

When there is need to use these herbicides for in-crop weed control, Pioneer® recommends Betta Strike® Plusour in-house applied seed treatment options treated seed to protect your investment.

It is also important to monitor and control soil dwelling insets at sowing, and selected Pioneer in-house applied seed treatment options will assist to protect against nominated soil pests. Find out more about Pioneer seed treatment here.

All Pioneer® brand grain sorghum hybrids are suitable for zero or minimum tillage.

If you’re unsure of any aspect of how to grow sorghum in your cropping environment, contact your local Pioneer seeds representative.

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