Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti

(Jim) Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host. And we’re at the Agronomy Farm at Kansas State University. It’s still a little bit chilly to be thinking about grain sorghum planting but we’re going to have Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti joining us in a few minutes, talking to us about what producers should be thinking about prior to planting. We’ll be right back.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Jim) Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host. And today we have Ignacio Ciampitti, he’s back with us. The last time we talked about corn and this time we’re gonna be talking about grain sorghum. So, Ignacio tell me there’s a lot of interest in grain sorghum these days. So, what’s causing that interest? (Ignacio) Well, there are different factors. I mean market is one of the factors. If you see compared with last year, China is really attracting more sorghum into the country and that is really moving prices up. (Jim) Uh huh. (Ignacio) So, price I mean, sorghum is really looking very good at the point. Even sometimes, in some places looking even much better than corn. So, when you are thinking about price, that’s one of the more important driving factors. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) I mean, the second one might be also when you are thinking about how much are you investing for planting corn, as you need to invest for planting sorghum. And this growing season the price of the commodities are pretty low so farmers are really taking a close look at that situation. So, seed costs, farmers are really taking a close look to that situation. So, seed cost is one of the main things. (Jim) That is the real big thing, isn’t it? (Ignacio) One of the big things I know, so the seed cost is related to the seeding rates. When you are looking at how much seed investment you need to have in your farm, compared with your seed costs, that’s one of the main factors that farmers are really considering very highly at this moment. (Jim) Another thing too would be and we will talk more about it here in a bit, but it’s tolerance, drought tolerance. We seem to be having plenty of those these days. (Ignacio) And I think… sorghum is a very clear plant that is showing some of those traits- heat and drought. (Jim) OK. (Ignacio) When you compare with corn, side by side, we’re seeing some benefits on heat and drought. And also some of the characteristics of the plant, the way that the plant flowers, how many days flowering is involving, the tolerance to stress, sensitivity, it’s less sensitive as compared with corn. And heat is also the same, the tolerance to some more heat for those July days. So, the plant is looking much more favorable under really stressed conditions. (Jim) And one other thing I want to talk to you about is where we’re planting corn, yield level, what’s the break point between, well I should be planting corn, or I should be planting grain sorghum? (Ignacio) Well that’s an excellent question and it’s a question most of the farmer’s they have today, most of all the information we collected and summarized this information a couple of years ago, they are showing these numbers that would be around 100-120 bushels. So if you are looking at your grain yield sorghum it’s getting to probably less than a 100 bushels it’s a clear cut, a grain sorghum is a place for… (Jim) If your corn is getting a hundred bushels a less, or your grain sorghum…? (Ignacio) If corn is getting less than 100 bushels, definitely most of the farmers will try to go to a grain sorghum. (Jim) Grain sorghum. (Ignacio) If the corn is getting more than 100-120 bushels, it’s a clear cut corn is the main crop in that area. (Jim) Right, OK. (Ignacio) And there is another point, just to bring into this segment. About where is placed a crop? Most farmers place corn in the best areas. (Jim) Best acres. (Ignacio) Best acres. And sorghum is being placed in some of the worst acres. But still the crop can produce very well. even under those situations. (Jim) Ignacio, stay with us, we’ve gotta take a break. Folks, stay with us as well. Get your cup of coffee and we’ll be back in just a few minutes.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm, I’m Jim Shroyer your host. We’re on campus here at
K-State and we’re talking to Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti, our crop specialist. We’re talking to him about sorghum now. So, we talked a little bit about you know, where and why sorghum is of interest maybe more so this year, price being one. And let’s talk a little bit about some productions practices, like planting dates. (Ignacio) On the planting dates we take a look to the last 10-15 years information and we compile that information. And we are seeing that one of the most convenient planting times is around early June. And why is that? And why are we not thinking of planting sorghum early in the season? What we get to see most of the times, if we are planting too early, what happens is sorghum takes more time to come up from the ground and then the problem that we are seeing most of the time we are putting the blooming time in the worst scenario. Around mid-July we have heat. (Jim) It’s always hot and dry. (Ignacio) Hot and dry and farmers are usually trying, more thinking in corn as a first step. Then when they finish the corn, they move to the following crops. At that moment they are not even thinking about sorghum as a planting option. (Jim) Well, we were talking soil temperatures now too. (Ignacio) Soil temperature is one factor. When you are thinking about corn, we are mentioning before, 55 maybe and start to see some maybe nice temperatures coming. I mean plants coming in that way. But we are probably thinking more about 60 degrees, OK? And we are saying most of the time it’s much better to have good conditions because we want to have very nice uniformity. (Jim) Emergence. Uniform emergence. (Ignacio) Emergence, yea uniform emergence is one of the key factors on sowing sorghum. When the plants are coming too late we are seeing some issues. Even when the sorghum can compensate, and we know that. (Jim) Sorghum is good at that. But you know corn and sunflowers and cotton, you really want that stand to come up at the same time. (Ignacio) I like to see most of plants coming at the same time, even on sorghum. We know sorghum has the capacity to compensate via tillers. I mean they can produce more tillers and more heads, but remember what happens sometimes at harvest. If we have tillers that they are coming at different times you are trying to harvest your crop and you have some that are ready, some that are green and they tend to be a mess. (Jim) Yes. (Ignacio) And the farmers, people harvesting don’t like that situation. So, planting time, it’s a good idea… uniformity because we can produce a crop that can reach very well at the end of the season. So, when you are looking at planting dates, one of the factors that we also need to thinking is about the time of… blooming time. And what is the time that we are blooming? Is that mid-August, late August? If it’s too late, what happens in that situation is that we may be able not to finish the crop. (Jim) It gets too cold, you don’t get the heat units. (Ignacio) It gets too cold and if any temperature below 30s or even below 40s, it will start to have some impact on that grain filling. So, we will probably not finish the crop and we will have low seed weight. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) So, we need to make sure at any time that we are going… trying to go too late, and the concept of trying to go late is again, is trying to place our blooming time in much better situations. You want to try to see if you can catch some nice summer rains, mid- August and the temperatures start to drop a little bit as compared with mid-July. (Jim) Last year though first week of September we had temperatures over 100 degrees. state records, records last year. (Ignacio) Yea and last year was very unique because we had September was very nice temperatures and then the last two weeks were very low. So, we have this concern at some point that… do we have enough heat units? (Jim) From flowering on? (Ignacio) From temperature base to close the crop, yes or no? (Jim) OK, hang on Ignacio we’ve got to take a break here. Folks, stay with us, we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer. We’re in Manhattan Kansas, and we’re talking to Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti, our crop specialist and we were talking about a little bit about planting dates, let’s talk about plant populations now, seeding rates. (Ignacio) OK. Well, that’s a very good question always when we are looking at sorghum. And the main question is coming from farmers, they probably don’t have… farmers say they were in corn and they were trying to go to sorghum now, and the questions are – I am expecting similar response to corn. (Jim) Right. And most of the time, one of the good things is that last year we worked with four or five different farmers around the state and we had on-farm research experiments and we did several different population trials on those farms. The responses are very, very complex. Most of the time we can say that we insist so much response. (Jim) Not like you would in corn. (Ignacio) Not at all. Most of the times we are seeing the responses are very flat. You can go from 10,000 seeds per acre very low situations. (Jim) Like you would have out in western Kansas. (Ignacio) Out in western Kansas that might be your optimum. And then you go to 40,000 or 50,000 seeds per acre and you are seeing that it’s very flat. Almost no response. And farmers are asking why is that? (Jim) Right, OK. (Ignacio) Most of the time when you get from your corn experience, you are not seeing a response. You are always seeing that population if you are still in optimum you will see a response. (Jim) Right, good environment and it keeps going up. (Ignacio) It keeps going up. And most of time what we tend to explain, is a very simple math calculation. Just to give you one example last year we had one experiment, we went from 10,000 seeds per acre to 40,000 seeds per acre. In 10,000 seeds per acre, we have four tillers, four heads. (Jim) Yea, right. (Ignacio) In 40,000 we have one. (Jim) One head. (Ignacio) So, if you make the simple math… (Jim) As long as those head sizes are the same. (Ignacio) Are the same. (Jim) It should be pretty darn close. (Ignacio) Exactly right, we were taking some of those counts, so that at the end of the day, population is not such a big factor sometimes only on the hybrids that they can tiller. (Jim) OK. Explain that a little bit. (Ignacio) There are some hybrids that they can produce more tillers. Those tillers, they produce head. So if you are counting, your yield is just based on how many heads you have per acre. That’s all. (Jim) Right, yea. (Ignacio) I mean, you can count plants, but at the end of the day, it’s about heads, how many heads you have. So if you have hybrids that they can tiller, you can put in a very low population, and it still will produce more tillers. (Jim) OK. (Ignacio) In a good environment, most of the times we are not suggesting you go to low. That’s because of another factor, it’s weed control. (Jim) Exactly. (Ignacio) We may have too many open spaces and sorghum is not really that good to compete with weeds at the beginning. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) So I’d rather have and when we talk about this, row spacing maybe that’s another factor we will modify. And if you have more plants it will secure that you can cover the canopy much faster and that crop is more competitive against weeds. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) So in those situations, it’s much better maybe to make sure that you have a much higher population just for the fact that you can probably not increase so much yields, but you will be saving. (Jim) OK. So for central Kansas, say you’re looking at maybe 40,000 to 50,000 dropped that many seeds. (Ignacio) Central Kansas, 40,000 to 50,000 and when we are going west, the precipitation is going down, when you are thinking about dry land we are dropping 30,000, 20,000 and then southwest we sometimes are using around 10,000 to 15,000 seeds per acre. (Jim) Right, right. Irrigated obviously we can go quite a bit higher. Except it depends on water capacity… (Ignacio) Exactly, exactly. (Jim) … of the well. So limited irrigation. (Ignacio) Yea, and sometimes we are seeing farmers that are working, half of the side with corn and half side with sorghum. And they do have limited irrigation. In that case for example, they go leave it up. (Jim) Ignacio, we gotta take a break. Folks, get your cup of coffee. Come right back, because we’ll be back here with ya.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host and we have Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti with us and he’s our crop specialist. Let’s continue our conversation about grain sorghum that producers are probably thinking about this time of year. We’ve talked about populations, planting date. Let’s talk a little bit about row spacing, how that fits into what two you just mentioned. (Ignacio) Well, they were similar questions and usually that’s one of the hot topics every time we have our Sorghum Schools. And most of the time we are thinking about a 30 inch versus a 15 inch. And sometimes we are also talking about maybe 30 inch versus 20 or 10. So, one of the main concepts that I am always trying to explain, narrower rows spacing is a positive factor in situations that we wanted to enter some light early and trying to increase yields. But it looks like most of the information that we summarized in the last 25 years, we are seeing that it might be a positive factor when we are pushing for high yields. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) And it’s a much more important factor I will say probably for soybeans than for sorghum. (Jim) When you say high yields, everyone wants high yields, you’re talking about high yield environments. (Ignacio) High yield environments and we are probably talking about 18 bushels or even more. So, that’s a number that probably we always try to come in our mind is that when we are looking at more than 100 bushels for sure, that’s a situation that we can start to think about narrow row spacing is in some of the scenarios. If I’m going too late, that might be a positive factor. In some situations and when I explain that, in some situations late planting if you are trying it again, capture more light early in the season it would produce more yield. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) Only when you have a good kind of precipitation and water availability. But it might be negative in some environments, in situations for example that you are really highly depending on the precipitations and the precipitations are not coming. (Jim) OK. Lower yield environments then. (Ignacio) In those environments, that narrow row, what it will do basically, the roots will be too close there will be high competition and we’ll using surface water even early in the season. before getting to flowering. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) When the sorghum is getting into flowering time, if you don’t see any rain coming in that moment you are almost I mean without water supply, you are accelerating and really increasing the drought stress. (Jim) And the other thing too is you’ve got a smaller head size, because that head is being formed under stress conditions. (Ignacio) Under stress conditions. The head size is being impacted if we have a small head size we need to remember, head size is placing grain. We will be seeing high impact on the head size, on the final grain number. That’s one of the main points on the narrowing row spacing. So, when we are recommending narrowing row spacing we need to always remember this concept. Narrowing row spacing, it might be a good positive factor on production, only in situations that we have a high yielding environment. We are talking about more than 100 bushels. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) In a low yielding environment, we are not seeing such a big implication of the row spacing factor. We are seeing most of the time around maybe five bushels or less than five bushels difference. So, think about that situation. When we are talking about different high yielding environments. (Jim) OK. I know one of the questions I always got was can I go with a wider drill spacing for my wheat, cause then I can use it for my beans or my grain sorghum as well. (Ignacio) For your beans yea. (Jim) Hang on here, we gotta stop here. Folks, we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors, so we’ll see you in a minute.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer and with us we still have Ignacio Ciampitti. And Ignacio in this last segment here, let’s talk a little bit about maybe one of the bigger issues with sorghum and that’s weed control. (Ignacio) Yea and definitely that’s an important point. We have all the main factors limiting and blocking yield. When you are thinking about what is my yield potential in this year an/d which one is my main limiting factor Weed control is number one for sure. And what we are seeing most of the time weed control questions, every time that we have a Sorghum School is coming. (Jim) You got palmer… (Ignacio) Palmer is one. We have pigweed, another one. So, it’s not that easy to control. That’s why we were coming back to the point on the row spacing segment, make sure that maybe row spacing might be one of the factors that we can use to really help the crop. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) How we can help the crop with row spacing. Narrowing rows would produce a situation that the plants are sensing competition and they will start to grow faster. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) And they will close the canopy. We want to close that canopy, that’s one of the main factors on that weed control. And another thing that as our weed specialist at K-State Dr. Kirk Thompson, he always emphasizes the whole idea of saying pre emergence. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) I’m trying to make sure that you start with a clean field. And that’s one of the main, big, big main points. We have something in post emergence, but we need to make sure that we start with a clean field, trying to control those weeds early in the season. That’s one of the main issues that we need to emphasize. (Jim) OK. Let’s go back to sorghum and water use efficiency. I know you’ve got some studies out working with that and of course, we’ve done lots of work in western Kansas, Lloyd Stone for example. (Ignacio) Lloyd Stone, yea. (Jim) So, go ahead and talk a little bit about that, those studies. (Ignacio) We have some funding coming from the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission which is the checkoff for all our Kansas farmers. So, they are sponsoring that project. And I have one student, Jonathan Berkenman he’s one of the students that is trying to right now, collect information about water use efficiency. We have a couple of locations in central Kansas which is one of the points that sometimes we have not much information as you mentioned before. Lloyd Stone was working very heavily on the western side. We have very good information about water use for corn versus sorghum, so we are trying to add some new information in central Kansas and some thing on the west side with Garden City and Tribune. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) Some of the numbers that we were seeing from last year when we are looking at the corn versus sorghum, they are seeing that sorghum looks very well in environments that there are less than 120 bushels, or around 150 bushels. (Jim) Right. (Ignacio) Water use efficiency on sorghum is higher than in corn, which was one of the expected outcomes. (Jim) Explain water use efficiency real quickly. (Ignacio) The way that we calculate, our way to calculate water use efficiency which has implications on farmers- how many bushels we produce per one of the inch that we use. (Jim) Right. OK. The crop use. (Ignacio) A simple calculation. So basically what we do, we have an initial water status and we have a final at the end of the season. And we monitor water status around the season. We want to get some idea of water use and then from there, we say OK, how many bushels I produce per many inches that I use. (Jim) Right, OK. (Ignacio) And we are seeing that efficiency going up on sorghum when we have yields that are probably below 150 bushels. And then we are trying to provide some new information on the new hybrids to see if that efficiency is increasing or not as compared to corn. (Jim) Ignacio, I really appreciate you taking time with us. (Ignacio) Thank you very much. (Jim) To talk about what producers should be thinking about and appreciate you being on the show. (Ignacio) Thanks. (Jim) And folks, thank you for being with us this morning on That’s My Farm. And don’t forget, next Friday at this same time, we’ll have another issue of That’s My Farm for you. See you then.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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