Carrington Research Extension Center
North Dakota State University
NDSU Extension Service
North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station

Ag Alert

June 3, 1999


Adaptation to North Dakota: Warm-season grass that is fairly drought tolerant and has potential for production in south-central or southwest ND. Average temperatures of at least 80 degrees during mid summer are needed for maximum seed yield. Below normal growing season temperatures, not length of growing season, is the primary limiting production factor.

Hybrid selection: Early-maturing hybrids of 80- to 85-day relative maturity are recommended. Hybrid selection is limited for ND production. Besides maturity, also consider seedling vigor, lodging resistance, yield potential, test weight, and seed quality. Seed types based on color include bronze, white and brown. Seed yield has ranged from 0 to 110 bushels/acre during the 1990's at the Carrington Research Extension Center.

Soil Conditions and Fertility: Fertile, well-drained soils are important to optimize yield. Grain sorghum is more tolerant of wet soils than most grain crops. Nutrient needs are similar to corn. Nitrogen requirement is 1.25 pounds/acre for each bushel of seed yield. It is best to have fertilizer placement separate from seed, but a maximum of 10 pounds N/acre may be placed with the seed. Sorghum response to phosphorus is most likely on soils testing medium or less. Use P fertilizer rates similar to corn.

Seeding Date: Soil temperatures should be a minimum of 60 to 65 degrees F. Normal planting dates are May 25 to June 10. Planting as a late-season, emergency crop is not recommended as most hybrids require 90 to 120 days to reach maturity.

Seeding Depth: 0.75 - 1.5 inches. Plant at shallow depths in fine-textured soils and deeper in coarse-textured soils.

Seeding Rate and Row Spacing: Use a seeding rate based on establishing a desired population of plants/acre, not pounds of seed/acre. Grain sorghum averages about 16,000 seeds/pound. About 70 to 75% of planted sorghum seed will establish viable plants. Establish populations of 30,000 to 70,000 plants/acre in 30-inch rows and 70,000 to 90,000 plants/acre in 15-inch rows (dryland production). Research conducted at Carrington indicates increased yield potential with 15-inch row spacing. While narrower row widths increase yield potential, the disadvantage of not using between-row cultivation for weed control needs to be considered.

Weed Control: Mechanical weed control options include: pre-plant, pre-emergence (before coleoptile near the soil surface) or post-emergence (crop emergence to 6-inches tall) with a harrow or rotary hoe, and between-row tillage for wide-rowed grain sorghum. Herbicide options include: Pre-plant incorporated = atrazine, Dual, Frontier, Lasso and Paramount; Pre-emergence = atrazine, Dual, Frontier, Lasso, and Ramrod; Post-emergence = atrazine + oil, Banvel or Clarity, Basagran, Buctril, Laddock, Paramount, Peak, Permit and 2,4-D. Dual and Lasso can be used only when sorghum seed is treated with a safener. Glyphosate (Roundup Ultra, others) may be used as a pre-harvest treatment. Refer to herbicide labels for required information on use.


Wheat planted when about 200 to 600 growing degree day (GDD) units have accumulated, using a base temperature of 40 degrees F, will be heading at the time orange wheat blossom midge emerge. The following are dates when 200 to 600 GDD units have accumulated, based on the ND Ag Weather Network, for selected south-central ND locations: McLeod and Oakes = April 27 to May 21, Edgeley = April 30 to May 27, Linton = April 29 to May 27, Bismarck and Jamestown = May 1 to May 28, and Carrington and Harvey = May 2 to May 29. Thus, wheat fields planted during the above periods should be scouted at heading time for wheat midge. Additional details on obtaining GDD units for your area and wheat midge management may be obtained from NDSU Extension Service offices.

Greg Endres, Area Extension Specialist/Cropping Systems, Email:
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