Over the last few weeks, harvest of the 198,000 plus acres of grain sorghum in Nueces County has been underway, with varied yields.

This year's harvest will continue for several weeks thanks to the drought, as we had sorghum planted from February to May.

Despite the fact that we have been in a moderate to severe drought, some respectable yields have been harvested, many of which have been better than the 10-year average for Nueces County of 3,575 pounds per acre.

One of the most important decisions a farmer makes prior to planting the crop is selecting the best-suited variety for his farm. To evaluate new sorghum hybrids under local growing conditions, I coordinated three Grain Sorghum Hybrid Tests this year, which produced an average of 4,308 pounds per acre.

These tests were planted in a side-by-side comparison format with a tester hybrid planted throughout the test to account for field variability. Yields were all adjusted to 14 percent moisture and accuracy testing was used to help account for field variations.

Planting conditions in many cases had only marginal soil moisture at the planting depth, while deep soil moisture was good. We all know that during the growing season we had below-normal rainfall, so the deep soil moisture, that had been stored from last year, helped make our crop this year.

The first test we harvested was in Driscoll with Larry and Donnie McNair, in which we evaluated eight commercial hybrids. As a result of the poor moisture and seeding depth, and lack of rainfall immediately following planting, a reduced plant stand was obtained, but with the persistent dry conditions throughout the growing season, this proved to be an advantage.

The average plant population per acre of the test was only 40,900. Total rainfall received at this site during the growing season was 4.63 inches.

The McNair test plots were harvested 123 days after planting or June 23. The best performing hybrid in the test was Pioneer 84G62 at 5,575 pounds per acre, and this hybrid actually had the lowest plant population of 33,333 plants per acre. The entire test plot average yield was 4,942 pounds per acre.

In the southern part of the county, east of Bishop, we conducted a test with Jerry Faske, in which we evaluated 33 sorghum hybrids. These grain sorghum hybrids were harvested 120 days after planting on June 28.

A total of 3.96 inches of rainfall was received on the test during the growing season and the average plant population in this test was about 58,000 plants per acre. The best performing hybrid in this test was NK 7633 at 4,159 pounds of grain per acre, while the entire test plot average yield was 3,567 pounds per acre.

A third grain sorghum test was conducted just north of Petronilla with Bill and Scott Ordner and Shane Suggs on the Ordner Farm. We evaluated 10 sorghum hybrids at this location, in which during the growing season only 2.73 inches of rainfall was received.

This test was harvested 124 days after planting on July 3 and the average plant population in this test was about 44,000 plants per acre. The best performing hybrid in this test was B-H 3822 at 4,894 pounds of grain per acre, while the entire test plot average yield was 4,416 pounds per acre.

These tests would not be possible if it were not for the cooperation of local farmers, and for that we salute the McNair, Faske, and Ordner farms. The support of seed companies also helps make these tests possible.

A complete report for each one of these tests can be found at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Nueces County web site, http://nueces-tx.tamu.edu/.

At the web site, select the Publications Tab, then the link for Grain Sorghum Result Demonstrations. Copies of these reports may also be obtained in the Nueces County Extension Office.

Jeffrey Stapper is the Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent for Nueces County. Readers may contact him at (361) 767-5217.