New sorghums developed and released by Texas A&M AgriLife
Dr. Bill Rooney, sorghum breeder, collaborated with the Centro Nacional de Tecnologfa Agropecuaria and Forestal (CENTA) in El Salvador in an effort to develop a brown midrib (bmr), dual purpose sorghum cultivar adapted to low input farming/livestock operations in Central America. The result was the development and release of the first bmr sorghum cultivar for the region that will aid subsistence farmers and others in the region.
The productivity of the Central American livestock and dairy industries are hindered by the lack of financing, a lack of infrastructure, and a lack of appropriate forage cultivars that provide sufficient quantity and quality forage or silage. Most of the livestock producers in the region are small land holders with limited resources; thus most of the Central American countries import dairy and meat products to meet increasing demand.
The environmental conditions in Central America make high quality forage production challenging. The tropical environment is home to a significant number of pests and pathogens that attack all crop enterprises and the seasonality of rainfall means extended periods of little rainfall that severely limits forage production. Forage production is plentiful to acceptable from mid-May through November, with rainfall frequency decreasing after August. Not only is the quantity of forage an issue during much of the year, forage quality in Central America is less than desirable for livestock and dairy production.
The forage sorghum industry has meaningfully improved forage quality in many areas of the world through the introduction of bmr sorghum. The bmr trait, which is known to reduce lignin concentration and thus improve forage quality, has been successfully introduced into many areas of the world, but has not been deployed in Central America. A breeding initiative to integrate the bmr trait into locally adapted grain sorghum, thus producing a dual purpose - forage + grain – commodity, was initiated by CENTA in El Salvador in 2005 by crossing a local cultivar, Tortillero, with B03292bmr from Bill Rooney’s program at Texas A&M AgriLife Research. The F1 was backcrossed to Tortillero and selections made in San Andres based on agronomic appearance and stability of the bmr trait. The B03292bmr parent was the source of the bmr trait and was develop by Dr. Rooney from the cross of BTxArg-11/BTx623bmr/BTxArg-1. The resulting B03292 was selected for the bmr trait and agronomic adaptation to College Station, TX and Guayanilla, PR.