2015/2016 Sorghum Harvest and Export Quality Report

A. Planting and Early Growth Conditions

Abundant rain delayed planting time

Weather, primarily precipitation and temperature, affects sorghum growth and development from pre-planting through harvest. Weather factors present a complex interaction with the genotype (sorghum hybrids) and management practices (i.e., planting date, soil fertility, pesticide applications) utilized in sorghum production. Grain yield in sorghum is a function of number of plants per acre, number of tillers3 per plant, number of grains per head, and final seed weight per individual grain. Wet and cool planting conditions can decrease uniformity, delay emergence, or hinder early plant growth, which may result in a lower number of plants and/or lower yields per area. Sorghum can compensate for small stand reductions via tillering capacity. Drier and warmer conditions than normal early in the growing season are benefcial for proper root establishment and plant-to-plant uniformity. This is because these conditions promote the development of deeper root systems for adequate anchorage and sustain continuous access to water and nutrients during the growing season.

1. Early Harvest Area

Overall, early planting conditions from February to April in the EHA were impacted by relatively below-normal or normal temperatures and much-above-normal precipitation (more than 10 inches of excess moisture). These conditions promoted a very slow start to the planting season, with almost no planting progress until March.

3Tillers are stems smaller than the main plant stalk that can also develop fertile heads.

2. Late Harvest Area

Planting was also delayed in the LHA due to wet conditions during May to June, despite normal temperatures. The 2015 LHA planting season spanned from April until July, with the largest progress made during June. For some areas in the LHA, this three-month interval was the wettest on record, slowing down planting and early plant growth. The abundant rain also may have affected root establishment by inducing stunted plants and fertility loss, as well as by diminishing favorable early crop conditions.