Secrets Spell Sorghum Success

This Kansas no-tiller credits early planting, timely rains and insect protection with earning last year’s national grain sorghum yield title.

What strarted out as an experiment with no-till grain sorghum has led Benedict, Kan., farmer Jerry Guenther to national prominence as one of the country’s top-yielding grain sorghum producers.

Guenther who farms 1,200 acres of sorghum, wheat and soybeans in southeastern Kansas, nearly doubled his county sorghum-yield average last season with an entry that averaged 182.35 bushels per acre. It was enough for Guenther to claim the national yield championship in the no-till, non-irrigated division of the National Grain Sorghum Producers Association 2002 Yield and Management Contest.

“I normally grow my sorghum under a minimum-till program, with just one tillage pass and one pass to shoot fertilizer on,” says Guenther. “But we’ve had good results with no-till soybeans in milo stubble and also no-till doublecrop soybeans in wheat stubble the last several years, so I decided to try no-tilling about 30 acres of sorghum straight into the soybean and grain sorghum residue last season.”

Five Key Factors

Guenther credits his award-winning yield to an early planting date, ample fertilizer, good rainfall and dependable control of weeds and insect pests.

“We’re fortunate to be in an area where we get 30 to 36 inches of rainfall a year, but the weather tends to turn dry later in the summer,” he explains. “The last few years, I’ve been trying to get my sorghum planted between the first and the middle of April, so we can get the crop made before it dries off.

Guenther says one downside to no-tilling early is trying…

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