Tropical Sorghums Being Primed for Cooler
By Sean Adams
January 7, 1997
Forty new sorghum lines with drought, insect and disease resistance have
been released by scientists with the Agricultural Research Service and the
Texas Agricultural Experiment
The releases are the latest in the ongoing Sorghum Conversion Program, in
which breeders convert tropical sorghums into varieties that will grow in
The converted lines can be harvested by combines, because they are several
feet shorter than tropical sorghums.
In many parts of the world, sorghum is grown as a food crop. In the United
States, however, the grain is used primarily as livestock feed and vegetative
parts are made into hay and silage. In 1995, 8.2 million acres of sorghum were
grown in the United States with an estimated farm value of more than $1
The key to the Sorghum Conversion Program is classical plant breeding, which
changes the plants genetic internal clock. The tropical
plants are used to shorter days and warmer climates along the equator. So,
scientists cross these with plants from temperate areas, creating lines that
thrive during the longer days of spring and summer in temperate zones farther
from the equator.
The latest group of 40 sorghums come from 13 different countries. Seed from
the new lines is available to breeders.
Scientific contact: Jeff Dahlberg, ARS-USDA
Agriculture Research Station, Mayaguez, P.R., phone (787) 831-3435