National Sorghum Producers Honors Michael Lenz and Larry Richardson with Outstanding Achievement in Sorghum Improvement Awards

LUBBOCK, TEXAS (June 4, 2024)—National Sorghum Producers presented Michael Lenz and Larry Richardson with awards for Outstanding Achievement in Sorghum Improvement at the Sorghum Improvement Conference of North America. These awards, presented at the biennial gathering of the U.S. sorghum research community, acknowledge and honor their exemplary service and achievements in the sorghum industry.

Lenz’s career began following his graduation from Iowa State University in 1980, leading him to significant roles at several prominent companies in the sorghum industry. His innovative breeding strategies have significantly shaped the sorghum landscape, addressing critical issues such as greenbug biotypes and ergot. His work has led to the release of over 50 commercial hybrids under 25 unique sorghum brands, making a substantial impact on the U.S. sorghum industry.

“Not only can we contribute the release of many new commercial hybrids to Mike Lenz and his work with sorghum,” NSP CEO Tim Lust said, “but he also led the development of molecular markers for downy mildew resistance and eliminating tall off-types in sorghum fields, which have set new standards for crop uniformity and disease resistance.”

The second award recipient, Larry Richardson, has dedicated his career to advancing the sorghum seed industry through his leadership at Richardson Seeds. Since his start in 1981, Richardson has steered the company to become a frontrunner in producing food-grade and ultra-short grain sorghum varieties. Richardson Seed was also one of the first companies to commercialize and promote BMR sorghum for silage as well as the grazing and hay markets.

“Richardson’s commitment extends beyond his company and work with the seed industry,” Lust said. “He has been a fervent leader through many organizations, including the NSP board of directors, and his integrity and proactive leadership continue to influence industry standards and practices, earning him widespread respect and admiration across the sorghum industry.”

The award for Outstanding Achievement in Sorghum Improvement was first presented in 1961. Recipients include, among others, the forefathers of the modern hybrid sorghum industry. As of today, more than 60 individuals have received this award. Visit to view past award recipients.


National Sorghum Producers represents U.S. sorghum producers and serves as the voice of the sorghum industry coast to coast through legislative and regulatory representation and education. To learn more about NSP, visit