Seed World

S&W Seed Company and Ag Alumni Seed Announce Sorghum Solution

S&W Seed Company and The Agricultural Alumni Seed Improvement Association, Inc. (Ag Alumni Seed) announced the execution of an exclusive agreement to collaborate on joint development of dhurrin-free sorghum for use in S&W’s grain, sweet, forage sorghum and other sorghum species. Dhurrin is a precursor to prussic acid, which is highly toxic to ruminant animals that feed on fresh sorghum forage. This collaboration is expected to bring innovations to sorghum production which will expand crop management options to optimize livestock grazing, harvest timing and forage quality.

Pursuant to the agreement, Ag Alumni Seeds has granted S&W an exclusive, worldwide license to the new dhurrin-free trait, and will provide dhurrin-free parent and hybrid seed developed at Purdue University using traditional breeding and non-GMO mutations. S&W will contribute best-in-class product development, production and marketing to deliver high quality sorghum hybrids that contain the dhurrin-free trait to sorghum growers.

“The forage sorghum industry has had limited technology brought to the market in recent years. We believe the dhurrin-free technology provides us with an opportunity to bring forward a product line that can provide better forage management, safety and potentially better palatability and digestibility for ruminant animals,” says Don Panter, S&W executive vice president, Americas. “At S&W Seed we look at sorghum as one of our key product lines and have prioritized our R&D efforts to bring improvements in genetics and technology to sorghum growers. The dhurrin-free technology is another example of our commitment to bring innovative traits to the sorghum industry, like the Double Team™ weed control system we announced earlier this year.  We expect to be able to offer a broad-spectrum line of dhurrin-free sorghum hybrids to the marketplace through our Sorghum Partners® brand in the coming years.”

“In bringing advanced research technology from our university partner Purdue University to the marketplace, this collaboration between Ag Alumni and S&W will provide the first dhurrin-free sorghum in the market to support better forage management techniques for sorghum growers,” says Jay Hubert, president and CEO of Ag Alumni Seeds. “This new cropping solution is expected to simplify pasture and forage management by providing sorghum growers with an effective management system to get the most from every production acre.”

“Sorghum is well adapted to drought-prone environments; however, its use as a forage crop has been limited by concerns about managing prussic acid potential of the crop,” says Mitch Tuinstra, Professor of Plant Breeding and Wickersham Chair of Excellence in Agricultural Research at Purdue University. “The development of dhurrin-free sorghum addresses this important consideration and can provide farmers with greater flexibility in production. Given the outstanding water use efficiency of sorghum, these new dhurrin-free varieties may replace other forage crops that require more water for production.”

David Callachor, S&W Seed Company executive vice president, international, says, “We think this is a great opportunity for S&W customers around the globe, whether you’re farming in the United States, South Africa, Saudi Arabia or Australia.  In most markets forage sorghum is grazed by sheep and cattle, and farmers have risked livestock health due to prussic acid poisoning under certain conditions. This development of dhurrin-free sorghum is expected to eliminate that threat, giving our customers a safe product and offering peace of mind regardless of growing conditions or grazing and feeding practices.”

Extensive field trials are planned for 2020-2021 to verify hybrid performance and fine-tune the feeding benefits of dhurrin-free sorghum system. Development of regulatory data is underway to obtain global approvals for the trait and to help ensure grain can be traded and exported through normal commercial grain channels.