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Extension Specialist Explain Issues of Planting Wheat behind Grain Sorghum

NC State Extension Small Grain Specialist Dr. Randy Weisz and his counterparts not only in North Carolina but also in Virginia and South Carolina collaborated on a set of recommendations for growers looking to plan wheat behind grain sorghum. Weisz explains the second letter is intended to clear up confusion created by the first that came out in mid-September:

“Ron Heiniger and I had sent out an earlier set of recommendations and there was some concern that they made it appear we were suggesting that growers not grow wheat behind sorghum. We wanted to make sure that we got a clarification and a more concise set of recommendations for growers that are considering this. Also to make sure we got the crop specialists from Clemson and Virginia experts to be involved. We wanted a set that could be used by growers in all three states.”

Grain sorghum has some physiological aspects that need to be addressed before putting in wheat seed:

“There are a number of things that are unique to sorghum. One is that sorghum tends to have levels of two types of compounds associated with it, one type is found in the sorghum residue, the other is excreted into the soil by young growing sorghum roots. These compounds are like herbicides, the sorghum does this to out compete any weeds. There is some evidence that these compounds can cause some problems for wheat that is planted after sorghum.”

And, according to Weisz, sorghum depletes soils of nutrients:

“Sorghum is very aggressive at mining nutrients. Often when you come back after sorghum to plant wheat, its not unusual for growers to notice that the wheat is potassium or nitrogen stressed. That is another thing that can harm a wheat crop that follows sorghum.”

So, are these situations without solution? Not at all. We’ll talk further with Dr. Randy Weisz on the solutions tomorrow on Inside Agriculture

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