Igrowth™ Sorghum on the Horizon

Advancements in weed control technology in sor­ghum are on the horizon through the form of igrowth™. Learn more about how Advanta and the Sorghum Checkoff are working together to bring this new technology to U.S. producers.

Article by Delanie Crist

Advancements in weed control technology in sor¬ghum are on the horizon through the form of igrowth™, a proprietary trait in sorghum, which allows producers to spray imidazolinone (IMI) herbicides for weed control.

The IMI tolerant traits were discovered by Advanta Seeds in 2007. Since then, the Advanta research and development teams have tested the new technology in multiple environments, working to finalize the discovery.

United Sorghum Checkoff Program Director of Agronomy Brent Bean, Ph.D., says the igrowth™ sor-ghum technology can be used both for pre-emergent and post-emergent control of weeds and grass in sorghum.
“Up to this point we really haven’t had anything that was effective in controlling grass over-the-top or poste¬mergence in sorghum,” Bean said. “This will have an over-the-top postemergence label for grass control in sorghum, and that’s a big deal.”

Until the creation of igrowth™ sorghum, producers were unable to use imidazolinone herbicides in grain sorghum because it would kill the crop. Having control over weeds with IMI ingredients, while allowing sorghum crops to reach full yield potential, is creating new oppor¬tunities for producers.

Zach Eder, Ph.D., U.S. technology development manager for Advanta, said they set out several years ago to do a different project to bring opportunity to sor¬ghum growers.

By screening their global elite germplasm for poten¬tial tolerances, Advanta discovered this natural mutation. Advanta pre-screened multiple lines of sorghum to develop hybrids with tolerance to IMI herbicides.

“Fast forward into recent years, we’ve now launched this technology in countries where the IMI herbicides family is a very strong performing group of herbicide chemistries,” Eder said.

Advanta has now launched the igrowth™ technology in Australia, Argentina and several other South American countries.

“[Igrowth™] has been a phenomenal success for us in those countries with sales and grower acceptance surpassing our most ambitious estimates,” said Eder. “So bringing it to the United States is the next big step for us.”

Industry collaboration to bring igrowth™ sorghum to U.S. producers led several Sorghum Checkoff board members to Australia this spring to meet with Advanta’s development managers to learn more about the technology. Craig Poore, a checkoff director and producer from Osborne County, Kansas, was a member of that team.

“My initial reaction was, ‘Okay tell me more. Is this going to work?’” Poore said.

After the initial discussion and receiving an under¬standing of the chemistries, Poore said he was excited about the possibility of having igrowth™ as a tool for future production.

“Igrowth™ technology is another good thing in our arsenal to help growers in fields where they have issues,” Poore said. “It helps knock back and control weeds while still getting the yield that growers want.”

Poore said it is important the Checkoff works with the industry to explore and bring forward improved and new technologies for producers.

“The Checkoff board, in my opinion, was created to better the crop, not only for profit and marketing but also to enhance growth,” Poore said. “By investing in new technologies, like igrowth™, it not only enhances the crop, but it also benefits the farmers who pay Check¬off dollars.”

While in Australia, the Checkoff group was able to look at commercially launched hybrids. Eder noted that within Advanta’s global family of genetics, Australian genetics for grain sorghum tend to do exceptionally well for their Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas Panhandle markets.

“The [U.S.] growers going to Australia to see the technology in practice was an excellent opportunity to see the herbicide program,” Eder said, “and at the same time to see the potential for the hybrids and the overall pipeline of products that will ultimately be a part of the overall portfolio pipeline for the United States.”

Advanta’s research and development team has been working with materials from Australia and Argentina as well as genetics predominantly used in the United States to create hybrid products that will fit into the U.S. market.

In addition to their own internal testing, Advanta has initiated numerous trials with different researchers from Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University and others across the Sorghum Belt. The Sorghum Checkoff also continues to work with Advanta through the transition into the U.S. market to help ensure education and best management practices are in place for U.S. growers.

“A big part of this technology, as well as the other herbicide tolerant sorghum traits that are going to be coming out, is what we call stewardship guidelines,” Bean said. “We’ll be actively involved with Advanta in developing those stewardship guidelines, which will help ensure this technology lasts for a long time, and the weeds do not become resistant to it.”

Advanta continues to collaborate with herbicide specialists to better under¬stand the potential of igrowth™ in the U.S. market and also provide the data and information growers are going to need to best utilize this technology.

“We’re showing excellent results as part of a preemergence pro¬gram as well as a post application program,” Eder said. “This is going to give a grower in different regions access to different herbicide regimens, so they’ll be able to fit this system into what they’re already doing rather than having to change every¬thing as a whole.”

At this point, Advanta has done U.S. plot tour demonstrations in South Texas and plans to do tours in central Texas, as well.

“We have plots in large scale production with key growers looking at these hybrids all throughout the grain growing areas of the U.S.,” Eder said. “We’re also going to have another large igrowth™ plot in western Kansas.”

Right now, the igrowth™ technologies are in the final process of technology acceptance in Canada and are in the mid-approval stages within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. However, the timeline for final approval remains tentative.

Advanta hopes producers looking at booking and purchasing seed for igrowth™ technology will have access in the fall-to-winter time frame in 2020.


This story originally appeared in the Summer 2019 Issue of Sorghum Grower magazine as a Lab to Cab article.