DuPont Pioneer and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) announced a collaboration to advance genetic tools and opportunities for grain sorghum. Under a three-year collaborative agreement, the Sorghum Checkoff will leverage the seed technology program at Pioneer with a total investment of $800,220 from Pioneer starting in 2014. Grain sorghum was planted on just over 8 million acres in the United States in 2013, and acreage is anticipated to increase as varieties improve.  

The collaboration is a reflection of sorghum’s value to farmers and consumers alike. In 2013, U.S. grain sorghum generated $1.7 billion in farm receipts. Additionally, 136 million bushels of sorghum produced last year were exported, with nearly 90 percent of the grain going to China. Sorghum exports have contributed more than $800 million to the U.S. economy, pointed out the Sorghum Checkoff group.

“This collaboration will help increase sorghum farmer productivity and profitability,” said Kay Porter, DuPont Pioneer senior research manager. “We believe this collaboration will lead to new innovations to develop stronger and higher yielding sorghum varieties.”

As part of the collaboration between DuPont Pioneer and the Sorghum Checkoff, three genetic-focused projects will include:

  • A search for a haploid inducer line, the first step in the development of double haploid sorghum breeding programs. If successful, this development would lead to a major leap forward in sorghum breeding speed.
  • The development of a high throughput, precision screening method for stress-induced stalk lodging, which targets an important agronomic challenge for sorghum farmers.
  • The development of non- and low-tillering sorghum hybrids, which would allow sorghum farmers to leverage precision farming techniques.

The projects will utilize the Pioneer global research network, with research conducted in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and off-season nurseries in Puerto Rico and Mexico. 

“I believe the collaboration between DuPont Pioneer and the Sorghum Checkoff illustrates the interest of seed technology providers and their commitment to grain sorghum,” said Stewart Weaver, Sorghum Checkoff chairman and grower from Edmondson, Ark. “The Sorghum Checkoff’s collaborative efforts with Pioneer marks a rejuvenated era in sorghum genetic research. Pioneer is a longstanding leader in sorghum research, and we are enthusiastic about what this opportunity means for U.S. sorghum farmers.”

Results and developments from the projects will be made available to the industry. The agreement with Pioneer is the Sorghum Checkoff’s third collaboration with the private seed industry.

The Sorghum Checkoff promotes sorghum as giving growers a sound, water-efficient rotational crop while providing end-users with a versatile, attribute-rich grain. Sorghum is a whole grain with neutral flavor, and  it provides another option for individuals seeking a gluten-free diet,

The USCP is a producer-funded organization that is dedicated to improving the sorghum industry through research, promotion and education. More information about the USCP and other research projects can be found at www.sorghumcheckoff.com.