The United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) announced in February its national sponsorship of the American Heart Association’s Healthy For Good initiative, kicking off American Heart Month in a big way. The initiative is aimed at promoting healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices for individuals and families across the United States.
Sorghum, a nutritious and versatile grain, is a perfect fit for this initiative as it is an excellent source of dietary fiber and contains antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of heart disease. As part of the sponsorship, the USCP worked with the American Heart Association to create resources and educational materials to promote the health benefits of sorghum.
“This is a first-of-its kind relationship for the Sorghum Checkoff and represents our strong commitment to supporting healthy solutions and nutrition education for all Americans,” Sorghum Checkoff Director of Food Innovation and Institutional Markets Lanier Dabruzzi, MS, RD, LD, said. “There is a growing body of research showing sorghum’s heart health benefits and we’re excited to be a national sponsor of Healthy for Good™ to help people improve their heart health through delicious, versatile and nutritious food choices, like sorghum.”
“Eating fresh, nutrition-rich food benefits both your physical and mental health and is a key component of the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8, which identifies specific health behaviors and health factors driving optimal heart and brain health,” American Heart Association’s chief medical officer for prevention Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA said. “Our Healthy for Good initiative helps people eat smarter by providing recipes, articles and tips to build—and maintain—good nutritional habits. We look forward to adding to our popular “eat smart” resources thanks to support from Sorghum Checkoff.”
A serving of cooked wholegrain sorghum is an excellent source of 12 essential nutrients, including protein, iron and zinc. Sorghum is a natural source of antioxidants, which may help to lower one’s risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and some neurological diseases. Research has illustrated sorghum’s role in maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
A staple in African, Asian and some Native American cuisines, sorghum is growing in popularity in American cuisine. Naturally gluten-free and non-GMO, sorghum is the perfect addition to any diet. Vegetarians, those avoiding gluten, vegans and meat eaters alike can enjoy sorghum. The nutritious, versatile ingredient has a neutral, nutty flavor that can be enjoyed boiled in soups or grain bowls, popped as a crunchy snack or baked using sorghum flour.
“Industry-changing innovations are happening for sorghum right now, for the better, and we are committed to showing how sorghum can be incorporated as part of a healthy diet,” Sorghum Checkoff Executive Director, Norma Ritz Johnson said. “Our Healthy for Good sponsorship announcement comes with perfect timing as February is recognized as the month for Americans to focus on their cardiovascular health. Sorghum can be a catalyst for change in the area of health and nutrition.”
By sponsoring the Healthy For Good initiative, the USCP is not only promoting the health benefits of sorghum but also supporting U.S. sorghum producers by increasing consumer demand for sorghum products. The partnership with the American Heart Association is a win-win situation for everyone involved, as it promotes healthier eating habits while also supporting the U.S. sorghum industry.
Recipes, nutrition and more information are available at SorghumCheckoff.com/consumers/, and more information on American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good initiative can be found at heart.org/healthyforgood.
The United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) recently announced its strategic partnership with Google, aimed at increasing consumer awareness about sorghum through innovative marketing strategies. As a producer-funded national organization dedicated to improving the sorghum industry and representing sorghum farmers across the United States, USCP aims to promote the sustainability and health benefits of sorghum and its versatility as a food ingredient.
The partnership with Google will enable USCP to leverage digital marketing strategies to create consumer awareness campaigns that highlight sorghum’s benefits. The recent campaign titled “Sorghum. Food’s Best Kept Secret.” showcases sorghum as a whole-grain option for consumers. The ads are powered by Google Ads, which leverages Google’s expertise in digital marketing. The ads can be viewed on The Sorghum Checkoff’s Youtube channel, Sorghum. Nature’s Super Grain.
“We can raise awareness about sorghum’s benefits and offer a viable solution to individuals seeking healthier alternatives,” USCP Director of Communications Clint White said. “Sorghum is a powerhouse grain with so much to offer consumers who value nutrition, sustainability, and versatility in the kitchen.”
USCP has also partnered with Padilla Speer Beardsley, Inc. (Padilla), a leading public relations agency with extensive experience in the food and agriculture industry. The agency will work with USCP to accelerate sorghum’s position from ancient to high-performance grain for sustainable, healthy meals and snacks.
“Together, we’ll let consumers in on the secrets of sorghum – from its high-protein, gluten-free and antioxidant-rich nutrition benefits to its role as a water-saving, climate-resilient crop – and make it the go-to grain for everyday cooks,” Padilla President Matt Kucharski said.
By increasing consumer awareness and demand for sorghum, this partnership between USCP, Google, and Padilla will ultimately benefit sorghum producers. As consumer interest in sorghum grows, producers will see increased demand for their crops, leading to more stable markets and potentially higher prices for their products. This partnership is an important step in ensuring the long-term success and profitability of the sorghum industry, benefiting both producers and consumers alike. For more information on this exciting new project, please visit SorghumCheckoff.com.
With dry soil profiles throughout most of the Sorghum Belt, coupled with high input costs, it is anticipated planted sorghum acres will be up in 2023. One of the most important decisions growers can make is which hybrid to plant. Historically, the release of new sorghum hybrids has been slower than some of the other crops; however, in the last five years many new hybrids have been released by seed companies providing growers with new options to consider.
The grain sorghum yield gain from 1963 to 2017 was recently studied by scientists at Corteva™ Agriscience and Kansas State University with the findings being published in Crop Science Journal. The yield gain of Pioneer® commercial hybrids increased by 24 lbs/acre per year over that time period. What was particularly interesting was yield gain has accelerated in recent years (see bar graph), with a significant yield increase for hybrids released from 2006 to 2017.
In the coming years, growers should expect the rate of yield gain to increase as new breeding techniques are adopted. The use of doubled haploid and other technologies should reduce the time to develop a hybrid by at least four years. In addition, and maybe even more importantly, the gain in knowledge of the location of important genes on chromosomes, coupled with powerful computer programs, will make breeders much more efficient at selecting superior parent lines for crossing to make better hybrids.
Before a new hybrid is released by a seed company, it is rigorously tested under multiple environments. Companies will not bring a hybrid to the market unless it has some significant advantage over other hybrids they sell.
Higher yield is always the goal and is accomplished by the hybrid simply having a higher yield potential under optimum conditions or having better defensive traits that equip the hybrid to better withstand abiotic (nonliving) and biotic (living) stress.
Abiotic stress is typically caused by drought and high temperatures. Becuase sorghum tends to be grown in dry environments, sorghum breeders spend a large portion of their efforts in developing hybrids that can withstand periods of drought and still maintain yield potential. Often overlooked by growers is the importance of heat stress. Much of the U.S. has experienced elevated temperatures in the last few years, and this is not expected to change any time soon. More effort is going into breeding for heat stress than in the past.
Biotic stress is usually from insects or diseases. Sorghum companies have placed considerable effort in identifying hybrids and parent lines with sorghum aphid (previously known as the sugarcane aphid) tolerance. Most new hybrids now have tolerance to sorghum aphids. For those regions where diseases are an issue, better anthracnose resistance has been incorporated in some of the new hybrids. The newest advance in sorghum hybrids has been the introduction of herbicide tolerance. These new hybrids allow for grower access to specific herbicides previously unusable in sorghum. There are three effective, grass controlling herbicide technologies now available:
Each of these technologies was developed with conventional breeding techniques and are non-GMO.
Contact your seed company to discuss these new herbicide tolerant hybrids and other recently released hybrids that have superior yields with better drought, heat, insect and disease tolerance.
The 2022 Sorghum Checkoff Annual Report provides a comprehensive overview of the organization’s efforts to enhance the sorghum industry. The report highlights the Sorghum Checkoff’s achievements in research, promotion, and education initiatives to increase the demand for sorghum and improve the crop’s profitability for farmers. Readers can also learn about the organization’s financial performance, key partnerships and collaborations, and the impact of its programs on the sorghum industry. The annual report serves as an informative resource for anyone interested in understanding the Sorghum Checkoff’s role in supporting sorghum producers and the industry as a whole.