Top 8 Tips for Grain Sorghum Yields


Selecting the highest-performing sorghum hybrids that best match regional conditions and individual farming practices is one of the top ways to achieve high sorghum yields.

While there are many factors involved in achieving top yields, these tips can help to produce the best grain sorghum (milo) for increased yields.

  1. Hybrid selection Choose the best sorghum seed hybrids for your region and individual farming practices. Look for hybrids that offer the highest yield potential in their maturity group (early, medium or late maturing). Select grain sorghum hybrids that have some tolerance to sugarcane aphids. Consult with local seed dealers and review results of university extension and industry association sorghum hybrid trials. Take a look at taller hybrids with top-performing seed genetics.
  2. Seed treatments Purchase seed professionally treated with a quality combination of fungicides and insecticide to support sorghum stand establishment and get seedlings off to a vigorous start. A seed treatment is a cost-effective risk management tool to protect crops from yield-robbing diseases and pests early in the season, including sugarcane aphids.
  3. Soil testing and fertility levels Use soil sampling to gauge fertility and maintain optimum soil nutrient levels. Restore more nutrients to the soil than were removed during harvest of the previous crop. For example, pre-plant fertilizers may enhance weed control and encourage greater plant growth sooner. When using pre-plant fertilizers, go with the high end of recommended levels for phosphorous, sulfur, potassium and nitrogen.
  4. Nitrogen management Apply nitrogen based on the yield history of your field and goals for the current growing season. For top return on investment, grain sorghum needs 1.1 pounds of nitrogen per bushel.
  5. Seedbed preparation Plant grain sorghum seed in rows 1 inch deep in heavy soils and 1.5 to 2 inches deep in sandy soils. To achieve better stands, use a corrugated roller or cultipacker after seeding. Sorghum yields perform well with no-till and reduced-till planting in warmer climates, where residue helps retain moisture.
  6. Seeding date Plant seeds between late February and early June, depending on your region. If the grain sorghum planting date occurs after early June, yields are reduced. Soil temperatures should reach 60 to 65 degrees F before sorghum seed is planted.
  7. Pest management Control weeds, diseases and insects with timely scouting and identification. Management options include sorghum hybrids with partial disease and insect resistance, seed treatments and foliar fungicides and insecticides. Pre-emergence weed control is critical. Controlling sugarcane aphids should include a management system that protects beneficial insects, including pollinators, as well as appropriate timing of insecticides.
  8. Harvest practices – Harvest sorghum when seed moisture is 20 to 25 percent. Frost makes the grain drier, and seed can be cracked during harvesting. With higher moisture levels, you can run the combine cylinder speed higher than the recommended 750 to 1,300 rpm.

Bayer Solutions for Sorghum

Bayer offers a broad portfolio of season-long products to help sorghum growers achieve the highest possible yield and grain quality, including:

  • Huskie® postemergence broadleaf herbicide offers multiple effective sites of action to help fight resistant weeds, while controlling 47 broadleaf weeds including Kochia, Russian thistle and Devils-claw.
  • Sivanto™ Prime insecticide precisely targets key damaging pests like the sugarcane aphid while helping safeguard beneficial insects. In doing so, Sivanto Prime preserves the overall health of your plants and, most importantly, increases harvest efficiency.
  • Poncho® 600 seed-applied insecticide systemically protects grain sorghum seed and seedlings from a broad spectrum of early-season insect pests.
  • Poncho®/VOTiVO® combines proven early season insect control with revolutionary broad-spectrum nematode protection, leading to higher yield potential through a healthier root system and a more vigorous and uniform crop.
  • The refined technology in Baythroid® XL* delivers a higher percentage of the high-activity isomers, resulting in greater knockdown power, longer-lasting residual and better value than other pyrethroid insecticides.

For information on Bayer’s portfolio of products to help sorghum growers maximize yields and protect crops, contact your local Bayer representative.

*Always read and follow label instructions. Not all products are registered for use in every state. Baythroid XL is a Restricted Use Pesticide.

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