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Alta Seeds launches herbicide tolerant sorghum lineup

igrowth system for grain sorghum offers herbicide tolerance to grassy weeds.

One knock against grain sorghum production is the inability to control weeds during the growing season. Unlike other crops, grain sorghum – a major crop in the U.S. High Plains – does not possess any built-in herbicide resistance. 

Until now. 

Alta Seeds announced on June 23 a new herbicide-tolerant grain sorghum technology that allows farmers to apply an over-the-top herbicide to control grassy and broadleaf weeds. The igrowth sorghum system, available for the 2021 growing season, features tolerance to imidazolinone (IMI) herbicide. Alta is partnering with UPL, which expects its companion herbicide, IMIFLEX, to gain EPA approval by the end of the year, according to Lynn Justesen, UPL’s senior technical services lead for row crops.

The igrowth sorghum system represents the “most significant innovation in grain sorghum since hybridization,” says Tanner Antonick, Alta Seeds’ regional sales manager for the central region. Sorghum farmers have pleaded with the industry for better grass control in the crop. igrowth promises to be vastly superior to the over-the-top grass products currently on the market. And, for grassy weeds like shattercane and johnsongrass, the igrowth system using IMIFLEX is the only means of control. 

Igrowth is a non-GMO technology, discovered through advanced genetic screening of Advanta’s elite germplasm. This naturally occurring tolerance means no DNA from other species or plants were introduced into the igrowth sorghum genome and igrowth has global market acceptance. When paired with the companion herbicide, the igrowth technology reduces the number of weeds competing for water and nutrients in the soil, allowing the sorghum crop greater access to crop inputs.

Still, farmers need to use a systems approach when using igrowth, says Sarah Lancaster, weed specialist at Kansas State University. Using IMIFLEX with other products in a tankmix will assure the best weed control. 

“Proper management and stewardship of the igrowth system is very important,” Antonick agrees. “We’re going to require a stewardship agreement that details best practices.” 

The igrowth lineup

Alta Seeds already has five grain igrowth sorghum hybrids ready to launch in 2001, says Zach Eder, U.S. technology development manager for Alta Seeds. These include: 

  • ADV G11201G, suited for irrigated and dryland acres in western and central Kansas; good yields, head exertion, harvestability, and standability. Developed in cooperation with Alta’s global sorghum program. 
  • ADV G1142IG, a medium-early hybrid that fits dryer environments, from central Kansas to southern Texas. 
  • ADV G2177IG, a medium-maturity hybrid that contains greater yield potential, so suited in eastern Kansas on east to the Corn Belt. This contains moderate sugarcane aphid tolerance. 
  • ADV G21681G, a medium maturity hybrid suited for the Great Plains and the western edge of the Corn Belt. High yield potential, for good ground.
  • ADV G2193IG, a medium maturity hybrid containing strong disease resistance and a good fit for rainfed environments. 

Alta Seeds also is working on the next generation of igrowth sorghum seed, including more geographic diversity for the grain sorghum lines and a series of sorghum silage options. 

Growers can get access to igrowth hybrids for 2021 by preordering hybrids after attending an online field day July 8, or at live events August 18 in Enid, Oklahoma, or September 2 in Larned, Kansas. Attendees will learn more about the stewardship agreement and be eligible to preorder suitable hybrids. Or, log onto www.altaseeds.com to gain access to the igrowth platform. 

While igrowth represents a way for farmers to add grain sorghum to rotations in which grassy weeds have made sorghum production difficult, it is not a panacea. Antonick says it is imperative that growers adhere to stewardship principles like using different modes of action. Also, KSU’s Lancaster points out that in many areas throughout the High Plains, growers face challenges of ALS-resistant pigweed. Thus, IMIFLEX may not be effective against palmer amaranth in Kansas and Oklahoma. 

Still, it’s a new tool that widens the window for grain sorghum production, she says. 

In addition to controlling weeds like shattercane, johnsongrass, Texas panicum, and purslane, IMIFLEX promises other benefits:

  • Excellent crop safety
  • A wide application window, from preemerge to bloom, although EPA will determine the label.
  • Multiple tank mix options
  • Low use rate of 6 to 9 ounces per acre
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