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Company introduces forage sorghum, sorghum-Sudan and Sudangrass hybrids.

Ron Smith, Editor

October 9, 2020

3 Min Read
Forage sorghum soaks up the morning sunrise on the Texas Plains. Shelley E. Huguley

Alta Seeds, Amarillo, Texas, is introducing EMPYR, an eight-hybrid lineup of forage sorghum, sorghum-Sudan and Sudangrass hybrids offering high quality, high yield, and adaptability from the West Coast to the Upper Midwest, the Southwest, and into the Mid-South and East Coast.

Alta breeders also expect to launch a forage sorghum hybrid in the next few years with a triple trait package including herbicide tolerance, BMR-6 nutritional advantages, and sugarcane aphid tolerance.

Alta announced the new lineup in a virtual media event Oct. 6.

Forage sorghums should play a role in beef and dairy nutrition, especially in limited water environments, says Jourdan Bell, Texas AgriLife Research and Extension agronomist in Amarillo.


Bell said sorghum may equal or surpass corn silage for yield and quality, especially in limited water environments.

“New forage sorghum hybrids produce comparable yields in non-stressed environments and greater yields in stressed environments,” she said. “Under water stress, corn silage quality is reduced. Corn silage quality is related to the amount of grain produced.”

Hybrid selection critical

She said hybrid selection makes a big difference with forage sorghum silage production and quality. “The hybrid should match the production system and end-user goals,” she said.

Bell said later maturing hybrids have great yield potential but are more susceptible to water stress. “Does the producer have the water to meet the demand?”

She added that late-season moisture and high fertility make late-season hybrids more prone to lodging.

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Mark Kirk, Eastern/Western regional account manager for Alta Seeds, discussed the characteristics that make the EMPYR lineup an important option for forage producers.

EMPYR lineup

The lineup includes four forage sorghum hybrids, two sorghum-Sudan hybrids and two Sudangrasses.

Product traits include:

  • BMR-6 for increased palatability and digestibility, supporting more weight gain and milk production in livestock production. BMR-6 also yields forage equal to or greater in feed value than corn silage.

  • Brachytic Dwarf for superior standability and high leaf-to-stalk ratios for high tonnage.

  • Dry Stalk, a reduced moisture level for earlier baling and storage.

  • Photoperiod Sensitivity for a wide harvest window.

The four EMPYR premium forage sorghum hybrids are:

ADV F103, an early maturity, dry stalk, BMR-6 hybrid “will be great in northern areas or double-crop situations,” Kirk said.

AF7401, is a full season brachytic dwarf, BMR-6 offering a 30 or greater ton per acre yield advantage in Ohio trials.

ADV F7232 is a mid-season brachytic dwarf, BMR-6 hybrid featuring “excellent nutritional quality and 3,432 pounds of milk per ton in a Bushland (Texas) trial.”

ADV F8322 is a sugarcane tolerant (APHIX) hybrid, conventional midrib and with higher quality than ADF8301. “F8322 is standing up to aphid pressure,” Kirk said. “I think it will make an impact where producers got away from sorghum because of heavy aphid pressure.”

The sorghum-Sudan hybrids in the EMPYR lineup are:

ADV S6404, a full-season BMR-6, brachytic dwarf with excellent tonnage production.

ADV S6520 is an APHIX hybrid, BMR-6 hybrid. It is photoperiod sensitive. “S6520 can go into the Southeast where producers have heavy infestations of sugarcane aphid,” Kirk said.

The two EMPYR premium Sudangrasses are:

AS 9301 is a mid-season, BMR-6 hybrid featuring dry stalk and exceptional plant health.

AS 9302 features superior standability, BMR-6 and dry stalk.

In the pipeline

More hybrids are on the way, said Ben Beyer, USA sorghum breeding lead. “Hybrid development is focused on high yield with high quality to maximize milk and meat production. 

“We are working with key public programs to ensure unbiased data with high quality. Our program is data-driven,” he said.

A promising product for the EMPYR lineup will be a hybrid with a triple trait package including aphid tolerance (APHIX), herbicide tolerance (igrowth), and BMR-6.

“We are evaluating hybrids with these three traits for possible commercial launch in the next few years,” Beyer said.

“We are excited about APHIX,” Kirk said. “This is the highest level of sugarcane aphid tolerance in the industry.”

Alta Seeds, the U.S. brand for Advanta Seeds, continually evaluates product performance to ensure the best are included in the EMPYR classification, Kirk said.

About the Author(s)

Ron Smith

Editor, Farm Progress

Ron Smith has spent more than 30 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Denton, Texas. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and two grandsons, Aaron and Hunter.

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