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Team Sorghum honors National Sorghum Foundation chairman

Sorghum Focus: Larry Lambright has a long history of serving the sorghum industry.

Last month, I wrote about the life and legacy of Dr. Bruce Maunder, our former research adviser and National Sorghum Foundation chairman. This month, I want to pay tribute to Larry Lambright, our current research adviser and National Sorghum Foundation chairman and a giant of the sorghum industry in his own right.

Larry took over for Bruce in this role a little over two years ago, and with his leadership helping guide Team Sorghum, we’ve had some big wins. Hopefully, this is just the beginning!

Larry grew up in Stinnett, a Texas Panhandle town today known more for its proximity to petroleum production and refining interests than to farmland. Upon graduating from high school, he made his way to Texas Tech University, where in 1969 he met and began working for — you guessed it — Bruce. Students of sorghum industry history will note this was just a year after the greenbug first appeared in Wall, Texas, so Larry had the opportunity to work on seminal sorghum industry issues beginning in his early days as an undergraduate.

After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in 1972, Larry began working full time for Dekalb as a research technician. Over the next 24 years, he and Bruce worked side-by-side, helping build Dekalb into the genetics powerhouse it is today. Monsanto bought Dekalb in 1999, and Larry spent five more years there, retiring in 2004 as North American sorghum breeding lead.

He spent a few years doing consulting work, and then he took on the director of breeding role for Chromatin in 2010. As the new steward of the venerable Sorghum Partners brand, Larry was at the forefront of the sorghum breeding resurgence sparked by interest in next-generation biofuel production and fueled by renewed concerns about weather volatility in the wake of the 2012 drought. Once again, sorghum history was being made in Larry’s breeding nurseries.

After departing Chromatin in 2016, he came to work here as NSP research adviser and National Sorghum Foundation chairman in 2017. It was only fitting for him to succeed Bruce in the role given the two had spent almost five decades serving the industry together.

Since he took over, the foundation has added one scholarship — the Bill Kubecka Memorial Scholarship honoring the late, great Texas Gulf Coast farmer for which it was named — and revamped another honoring Bruce, and the insight he has brought to strategic discussions related to the direction of the industry have been instrumental for sorghum farmers looking to maintain competitiveness in a difficult environment.

Larry and his wife, Kathy, just celebrated 50 years of marriage, and his two children, Marc and Kristi, have given him four grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Between family and the important work he does around here, his career — personal and professional — today has him working on issues just as consequential as ever.

It’s a privilege to go to work each week with a former North American breeding lead for one of the world’s most renowned plant genetics companies, and I hope you’ll take the time to help me thank Larry for the work he does on behalf of sorghum farmers. We’re very blessed to have him. If you’re interested in getting involved with the National Sorghum Foundation, call us at 806-749-3478. I know Larry will enjoy hearing from you.

Duff is a strategic business director for National Sorghum Producers. He can be reached by email at john@sorghumproducers.com. Find him on Twitter @sorghumduff.

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