Sorghum Tips

Harvest Aids


Sodium chlorate and glyphosate are labeled for pre-harvest use in grain sorghum.  The former is a burn down chemical that acts as a defoliant, whereas glyphosate (technically labeled for weed control) kills the plant which aids in drydown.  For seed milo growers, diquat dibromide is also labeled.  Although limited Texas AgriLife research has not demonstrated yield differences among treated and untreated grain sorghum, the ability to manage and potentially accelerate harvest can have significant advantages in Texas, especially when humid conditions slow drydown.  Furthermore, combine operators have often noted that the uniform condition of the crop at harvest makes use of these harvest aids a plus.  The primary physiological criteria for application include seed moisture below 30% AND physiological maturity, which is best determined by identifying black layer in the seed (Figure 1).

For a summary of grain sorghum harvest aid uses in grain sorghum, whether this may be an appropriate management tool in your farming, as well as links to Texas AgriLife guidelines, consult Nueces Co. ag. agent Jeff Stapper’s blog at

Figure 1 (below). Sorghum kernels in various stages of maturity harvested from the same head from the most mature (1) to the least mature (5). The black layer is first readily visible in (3) and becomes more distinguishable as the seed loses moisture.  Do not confuse black layer, which develops where the seed is attached to the plant (bottom end when in the head), with the black dot on the opposite end of the seed.

Herbicide in Cotton Restricts Rotation to Sorghum & Hailout/Replant/Late Plant Guide Available (HP)


Staple Herbicide Use in Texas Cotton Restricts Rotation to Grain Sorghum

Staple (or Staple LX), a.i. pyrithiobac sodium, is an occasional herbicide used in Texas cotton.  Texas producers of any crop are encouraged to rotate their weed control herbicides to slow the potential for development of herbicide-resistant weeds (use pre-plant herbicides, do not rely on the same chemistry year after year, etc.).  Staple is one pre-emerge and post-emerge option, but the label states “do not rotate to grain sorghum in the year following a Staple (LX) application.”

According to Dr. Paul Bauman, Texas AgriLife weed specialist, College Station, Staple is used some along the Texas Gulf Coast for pigweed control, and Staple offers some help for Roundup resistant waterhemp control.  In the High Plains Staple is a herbicide of choice for morningglory control and likewise is an option for control of newly documented Roundup resistant Palmer amaranth (pigweed).  However, Staple use precludes any consideration of grain sorghum the following year.  Dr. Pete Dotray, Texas AgriLife, Lubbock notes ‘the injury potential on grain sorghum the next year is real,’ let alone trying to plant sorghum in the year when hailout of cotton occurs.

Texas High Plains

Hailout/Replant/Late Plant Guide is Now Available

The 11thth annual edition of Texas AgriLife Extension Service’ “Alternative Crop Options after Failed Cotton and Late-Season Crop Planting for the Texas South Plains” has been updated for 2012.  The guide is a “first things” approach to what you need for assessing hail damage and stands in current crops, and what your replant options are.  Grain sorghum is a key replant consideration in most cotton hailout/replant decisions due to inexpensive establishment costs, income potential, and generating valuable surface residues in a cotton rotation.  Herbicides, as noted above, can limit sorghum as an option.  Tips for planting dates, seeding rates, herbicides already applied, etc. are noted throughout the document, which is available at

Dryland Seeding Rates (HP) & Damaged Sorghum Heads (CB)

Texas High Plains

Dryland Seeding Rates

This is the most cussed and discussed and explained grain sorghum topic in my 13+ years as Extension agronomist in the Texas High Plains.  Historically, many producers planted too much seed for ever present drought potential.  When deep soil moisture is good (not 2012!), Extension recommends a maximum seeding rate of ~32,000 seeds/Acre, but we will readily drop that for drier conditions.  If deep soil moisture is minimal consider ~26,000 seeds/Acre, and even lower if you are dusting in a later crop in very dry conditions.  At these lower seeding rates and the subsequent stands you still retain surprising yield potential if conditions improve, but on the other hand, you have a better shot at harvesting a crop—we want a grain crop rather than a hay crop—with low plant populations in spite of dry conditions.

Texas Coastal Bend

Damaged Sorghum Heads

On May 21, Nueces Co. AgriLife Ag. Extension agent, Jeff Stapper noted some area fields showed blanking and undeveloped sections on the head, particularly at the tip (examples below).  Along with Dr. Dan Fromme, extension agronomist from Corpus Christi, they concluded that this malady, already evident at heading, was likely related to stress in the sorghum plant.  Grain sorghum breeder Dr. Gary Peterson, Texas AgriLife Research in Lubbock, concurs noting the symptom is consistent with heat stress during panicle (head) formation while the developing heads are still wrapped up in the stalk surrounded by leaf sheaths.  This indeed requires hot conditions to cause damage down in the plant.  No fields reported excessive damage.  If 20% of field heads lost 20% of grain potential (and the head compensates some) this is a 4% loss, so though the damage may looks bothersome, the overall loss was still minimal.





Texas AgriLife Extension Insect Guide for Texas Sorghum

Whether you are scouting for stink bugs in maturing grain sorghum on the Texas coast, assessing early season insects further north, or debating purchase of insecticide-treated seed in the Texas High Plains, then Texas AgriLife offers a valuable insect control source. “Managing Insect and Mite Pests of Texas Sorghum,” B-1220 (2007) has 30 color pictures and the guide systematically describes identification, insect activity, field thresholds, and suggested control measures including insecticides for 29 species of insect pests in Texas sorghum. You may view, print, or download the document for free from (type “sorghum” in the search box), or you can purchase your own color print copy.

For extension assistance with insect issues in grain sorghum, contact Texas AgriLife Extension insect personnel including integrated pest management agents, or Extension specialists through your county Extension office, or the Texas A&M Department of entomology –

Online Chemical Label Service & Irrigated Seeding Rates (HP)

One-Stop Online Access to All Chemical Labels

Do you need easy access to chemical labels for planning purposes, wish to ‘shop’ for herbicide specifics or for names of generics vs. brand name chemicals?  Texas AgriLife staff rely on to readily obtain label information from their computer.  Access is free.  To use Chemical Data Management Systems’ database, log in to the website then:  1) click ‘Services’, then ‘Labels/MSDS’, 2) enter the desired product name in the search box (keep the name simple, for example ‘Dual’ rather than ‘Dual Magnum’ to ensure you return all labels for Dual products), 3) select the label of your choice, 4) choose the main label or any supplemental labels you might need.

You may also search for chemicals based on active ingredient, target crop, or other criteria:  1) click ‘Services’ then on the left choose ‘Other Search Options’, 2) register with CDMS (free), 3) enter the common name (e.g. s-metolachlor, the a.i. in Dual), product type (herbicide, insecticide, etc.), and ‘crop/site’ which is your target crop (e.g. sorghum), and ‘Texas’ at the bottom.  You will then receive a summary of active ingredients, possibly in combination (there are several for s-metolachlor)—make your choice, click ‘Next’ then choose the particular sorghum crop (e.g., grain sorghum, sorghum/sudan, etc.), then you receive the final results—labels comparable to Dual (nine in this example).


High Plains

Irrigated Grain Sorghum Seeding Rate Suggestions

Grain sorghum hybrid typically range from about 13,000 to 16,000 seeds per lb., and this differential is a major reason why we do not recommend basing seeding rate on lbs. per acre, especially when you are likely to have an air vacuum planter.

For limited irrigation sorghum:  (6″-8”; typical of many producers in the South Plains & Texas Panhandle) With low soil profile moisture conditions—and there is essentially no profile moisture in most areas in 2012 unless you have pre-watered—target 40,000-45,000 seeds/A, but if soil moisture is good, consider 50,000-55,000 seeds/A.

For full irrigation sorghum:  (12″-16”) Target 68,000-80,000 seeds/A if soil profile moisture is good, but reduce for dry soil.  Cap seeding rates at 80,000 seeds/A in just about any high irrigation scenario, though by late June/early July consider up to 90,000-100,000 seeds/A for non-tillering hybrids or when the development of tillers may cause difficulty with lack of uniform maturity across the field which causes problems at harvest time.  High Plains producers report they regularly achieve 10,000 lbs/A grain sorghum with seed drops of 55,000-60,000 seeds per acre.  “I have learned that is all I need,” notes one Bailey Co. grower.

Downey Mildew Fungus (CB) & Split Pivot Irrigation Scenarios (HP)

Texas Upper Gulf Coast

Downy Mildew Fungus & Grain Sorghum

If you farm sorghum between Victoria and Houston, you may be at risk for sorghum downy mildew (SDM), particularly for continuous sorghum. Since about 2000, there have been sporadic outbreaks of SDM, associated with 1) strains of the fungus resistant to metalaxyl, the fungicide commonly used as a seed treatment to control this disease, and 2) planting very susceptible hybrids. Efforts to manage this disease by a monoculture of SDM-resistant hybrids has led to the development of new strains (pathotype) of the fungus that defeat the host resistance. The easiest way to identify an SDM problem in your field is to inspect plants now, while they are still small. The infection occurs while seedlings are emerging from soil. Infected plants are stunted and are difficult to find in a field later in the season because the healthy plants crowd them out. If you think you have SDM, contact your county agent or me (TI), for confirmation and pathotype testing, or to assist with selecting a resistant hybrid for future planting. For more information go to to view documents for symptoms and control of SDM.
Submitted by Dr. Tom Isakeit, Extension plant pathologist, College Station,,
(979) 862-1340.

High Plains

Split Pivot Irrigation Scenarios — Two Crops & Two Planting Dates

With the lack of any deep soil moisture as of mid-April, many irrigated High Plains producers are evaluating strategies to reduce and minimize the risks associated with having one crop under a full pivot.  Numerous cropping strategies exist for pairing cotton, corn, and peanut with other crops like grain sorghum, whose planting date, variety/hybrid days to crop maturity, and critical irrigation needs result in primary irrigation requirements at a different time, minimizing if not eliminating overlap of peak timing. Grain sorghum fits favorably in many of these scenarios as a crop with lower production costs and the ability to use limited but timely irrigation.  For a PowerPoint discussion of cropping strategies involving grain sorghum, particularly for the Texas South Plains, view the discussion at

Huskie Herbicide: Major addition for weed control in Texas grain sorghum

  • Over-the-top weed control in grain sorghum
  • Excellent control of pigweed and many other broadleaf species
  • Greatly reduced injury potential compared to 2,4-D and dicamba
  • Atrazine suggested as a key tank mix partner to enhance weed control

Huskie was approved for use in grain sorghum in July 2011. Some producers in the Texas High Plains region used the herbicide in late planted grain sorghum, and they were very pleased with the results. Texas AgriLife staff have researched Huskie since 2009 (brief summary below).

Huskie is labeled for over the top use (POST) in grain sorghum from 3-leaf stage to 12” tall. The herbicide’s active ingredients contain two formulations of chemicals in Buctril and a second a.i. pyrasulfotole. Huskie has demonstrated good post-emerge control on Palmer ameranth and other pigweed species, kochia, species of morninggloery, marestail, henbit, etc. Partial control is noted on bindweed (possession vine) and puncturevine. Best weed control is noted for weeds at ≤ 4” tall.

Also, there are numerous tank mix options particularly atrazine, which is a key for optimum weed control in grain sorghum. In fact, the Huskie label all but encourages use of atrazine to ‘strengthen and expand weed control.’ Atrazine rates, of course, are dependent on soil texture (heavy, light), but tank mix rates range from 0.25-1.0 lbs./A. Other tank mix options include Ally, dicamba, Peak, and Starane. Use spray grade ammonium sulfate (AMS) at 0.5-1.0 lbs./A and non-ionic surfactant (NIS) if the tank mix partner requires it.

Injury Potential is Low
Texas AgriLife notes only minor to ~15% injury to 4-leaf sorghum, with little evidence of injury persisting past 3 weeks. Even less injury has been observed in 8-leaf stage grain sorghum. This is much less than the injury potential from either 2,4-D and dicamba.

Sample of Weed Control Results
High Plains
Bushland – 91%+ control at 7 & 42 days after treatment of 3-4” Palmer ameranth when applied alone at 13-16 oz./A; 95%+ control when applied with 0.5 lb. atrazine at 13 oz./A; adding 4 oz./A dicamba did not improve control.
Halfway – Huskie + atrazine, 94-97% control of 2-4” Palmer ameranth at 21 to 41 days after treatment; slight sorghum injury noted with all POST treatments, but ≤ 5% 21 to 41 DAT unless 2,4-D was included.
Central Texas
No formal trials conducted to date, but Extension observations note that weed control appeared very good and injury potential was low.

Non-treated control


Good Palmer Amaranth Control w/ Huskie + Atrazine


For further information consult the label and your chemical dealer. An expanded summary from Texas AgriLife is available online here.


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