Comparison of Grain Sorghum and Corn Productivity under Limited Irrigation with Subsurface Drip

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Jason G. Warren
Art Stoecker
Jordan Gatlin
Karthik Ramaswamy
Rodney Jones
Jody Campiche


Various sources can be cited to demonstrate the lower irrigation requirement for optimum grain sorghum production compared to corn.  For example, a study conducted at Garden City, KS showed that sorghum irrigated with 7 or 2 inches of water produced average yields of 122 to 117 bu, respectively, during the 4 year study. In contrast, irrigation of corn at rates ranging from 12 to 3 inches produced yields ranging from 205 to 119 bushels (Klocke and Curri, 2009). This data demonstrates the lower water requirement for grain sorghum under the given environment. However, these studies do not provide representation of yield potential using recently developed sorghum genetics and management practices.  Recent analysis of sorghum variety trial data from the OSU Panhandle Research and Extension Center shows that between 2009-2012 average sorghum yields of 145 bu/acre were achieved with 10 inches of in season irrigation. This along with declining well capacities and concerns about future restrictions on water availability require that a detailed analysis of the yield potential for irrigated sorghum and its economics relative to corn be conducted.

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