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Following Sorghum with Wheat

Sorghum has been making a big splash in the Carolina’s and big splashes have big effects. One of them seems to be showing up in the next wheat crop. Dr. Randy Weisz and Dr. Ron Heiniger have been working on production methods for producers that want to follow sorghum with wheat. Dr. Ron Heiniger:

“We have been gathering information on the effects of sorghum residue on wheat growth. There are some things that growers should be aware of and some things that we are concerned about to get good wheat.”

Heiniger’s first recommendation:

“The first important step is to burn down the sorghum as quickly as possible. The big issue is growing root, meaning that the sorghum wants to keep on growing because it’s a perennial. You want to stop that from happening. That rooting can be a source of problems later on.”

Heiniger and Weisz have published a short informational brochure. You can see text of that below.

Wheat Production Forecast Adjusted

You can chalk it up to hot and dry weather conditions internationally for USDA'S reduction in the world wheat production forecast. Susan Carter has more….

“’Jerry Benge says: As of September first, about 11% of the US corn crop has been harvested, that equates to nearly 1.1 billion bushels. We have about 1.2 billion bushels of new crop corn out there that will probably be used in the old crop year.’ If that’s the case, the effect on ending stocks would be positive. ‘We may end up with old crop ending stocks to be somewhat higher than we previously thought.’ Exports are expected down and the mid price point is $7.90. What didn’t change was corn use for ethanol.”

Voting for the Farm Bill

House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson told attendees a new five-year farm bill wouldn’t make it to the House floor this year without more pressure from constituents. While House leadership said there wouldn’t be enough votes to pass a five-year farm bill – Peterson thinks the votes are there.

Renewable Fuel Standard Sees Increases

The Environmental Protection Agency increased the biodiesel volume requirement for next year under the Renewable Fuel Standard on Friday to 1.28-billion gallons. National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe says this will allow biodiesel plants across the U.S. to invest and expand – creating thousands of jobs. Jobe says NBB applauds President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for supporting an all of the above energy approach.



Text from Heiniger and Weisz's brochure:

Ron Heiniger and I have been getting lots of questions about planting wheat following sorghum. Here is what we know about doing this:

Sorghum leaves a chemical in the soil that can hurt wheat. Little is known about it, and tests have never been done in this part of the county. So we have little data to go on. The problem is most severe in no-till wheat following sorghum. Some reports have shown up to a 25% yield reduction when no-till wheat follows sorghum. Some reports have shown less. Tillage helps. Yield reductions in tilled wheat following sorghum have ranged up to 10%.

Growers who want to plant wheat following sorghum should know that this might be a problem for them. Because very little research has been done in this area, it is difficult to make recommendations to assist folks who want to do this. But, here are several suggestions that may help.

1) Use glyphosate to kill the sorghum prior to harvest. If the sorghum is left alive and starts to regrow after harvest, the new roots will continue to exude the toxic compound.
2) Use tillage to incorporate sorghum residues and hasten their decomposition.
3) Delay wheat planting. This is tricky. Delaying wheat planting can in-and-of-itself reduce wheat yield, but it may also help to allow the toxic compounds to decompose.
4) Make sure the wheat is treated to high pre-plant fertility levels. Make sure pre-plant N, P, K, and S are at or above recommended levels.
5) If planting wheat after tillage check stand establishment and watch early tillering. The problems are most likely to show up early in the season and look like either a poor stand, or a good stand that starts to go backwards. Early N in February may help.
6) If planting wheat no-till, watch the wheat plants both early for stand establishment, tillering (and need for February N), and also in the spring!!! Research has shown that the problem may not start in no-till wheat until the spring when plants may begin to turn yellow and abort tillers.

We are learning as we go on this one! Hopefully by next year we will have a lot more concrete information about this. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.