New era in sorghum pre-breeding research to focus on lodging

Grain Central, August 18, 2020

The GRDC is calling for co-investment partners to develop genetic solutions to one of the most costly problems for sorghum growers – reduced yield because of lodging.

THE discovery of innovative, genetic solutions to one of the most costly problems for sorghum growers – reduced yield because of lodging – will be the focus of a new direction Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) investment.

The GRDC today released an Expression of Interest (EOI) calling for co-investment partners to develop genetic solutions to break the relationship between lodging, height and yield in sorghum, which would equip commercial sorghum breeders with germplasm for varietal improvement and underpin long-term profit gains for growers.

Nicole Jensen

GRDC general manager genetics and enabling technology Nicole Jensen said the EOI represented an important change to the way GRDC invested in sorghum pre-breeding, with a targeted trait-based approach identified as the most effective way to generate outputs for commercial breeders to use in hybrids, and in turn improve on-farm profitability for growers.

“Sorghum is one of the most important crops in farming systems in Queensland and northern New South Wales and some very effective research has been done over the past 20 years to assist growers to improve their yields,” Dr Jensen said.

“But we know there is still more research that needs to be done in areas such as sorghum lodging, which limits yield potential and remains a very real and costly issue for growers.

“While research has been looking at lodging for some time, we have yet to see a solution for growers. This is one reason the GRDC is now investing in trait-based pre-breeding that aims to generate outputs for use by commercial sorghum breeders for rapid deployment into hybrids for growers.

“This trait-based approach is in line with the GRDC’s approach to pre-breeding for all major crops in Australia and we are confident this will deliver value to our grower levy payers.”

Pre-breeding projects

Dr Jensen said the EOI was the latest GRDC investment in a series of sorghum pre-breeding projects that have delivered value to growers through traits such as midge resistance, stay green and other drought-related traits.

“This new investment is an opportunity to be innovative and deliver higher yielding sorghum hybrids to growers faster,” she said.

“The GRDC will continue to evaluate opportunities for further investment in other traits of importance to sorghum growers as they arise.”

Dr Jensen said it was a critical time for the industry, and the GRDC was committed to investing in ways that delivered the most value on-farm.

“Over the past five years the GRDC has invested about $12 million on sorghum research projects, which attracted an additional $14.5m of direct co-investment,” she said.

“These investments reflect GRDC’s holistic approach to delivering for sorghum growers and cover a range of areas, such as agronomy, pre-breeding, crop protection and the National Variety Trials (NVT).”

Major gains for growers delivered by GRDC investment in sorghum includes pre-breeding traits such as midge resistance, ‘stay-green’ and drought-related varietal improvements, which had all underpinned profit gains on farm.

Research has also produced wins in the agronomy and crop protection area with increasing plant populations and narrowing row widths proven as effective weed management tactics.

The GRDC co-invested in work that now allows the use of the herbicide Dual Gold® in a split application, providing growers with critical residual control of grass weeds in sorghum such as feathertop Rhodes grass.

Agronomic research continues to explore opportunities for early sowing in cooler soils to give growers the knowledge and tools to maximise yield in increasingly variable conditions.

Source: GRDC

More information about the EOI is available at

The GRDC EOI – Break the relationship between lodging, height and yield to increase the rate of genetic gain for yield and increase the profitability of Australian sorghum growers – will be open until November 11, 2020, to allow all interested research organisations and industry stakeholders ample opportunity to explore innovative approaches and collaborations and lodge their interest.

Potential respondents can register their interest by email to [email protected] and quote Reference PROC-9176227 to receive the full terms and conditions of the EOI.




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