Understanding the importance of matching sorghum hybrids and agronomy to site and seasonal conditions

Simon J. Clarke1, James McLean1, Barbara George-Jaeggli1,2, Joseph Eyre1, Daniel Rodriguez1

1 Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI), The University of Queensland, P.O. Box 102, Toowoomba, Queensland, 4350, qaafi.uq.edu.au, d.rodriguez@uq.edu.au

2 Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hermitage Research Facility, Warwick, Queensland, 4370


Multi-environment trials (MET) (n = 15 environments, E) combining most commercially available sorghum hybrids (G), and agronomic managements (M) (i.e. plant density and configuration combinations), were run across Queensland in the Northern Grains Region of Australia during the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons to (i) characterise the yield potential and yield stability of the different hybrids; and (ii) derive simple crop design (G x M) rules that maximise yield across different environments. Irrespective of the environment yield, most modern hybrids out-yielded the very widely-grown hybrid, MR-Buster. There were a small number of hybrids that were more responsive than MR-Buster to changes in the environment. However, many hybrids had a lower yield stability, suggesting their yield is less likely to change across environments relative to the industry standard. Recursive partitioning showed that at all sites high starting soil water and narrow row spacing led to greater yields. At low yielding sites hybrid characteristics, especially high yield potential, led to improved productivity. The main conclusion from this work is that in sorghum what really matters is not just agronomy, but to understand how to match hybrids and agronomy to site and seasonal conditions.


The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

Photo Credits

David Marland Photography david_marland@hotmail.com Southern Farming Systems Agriculture Victoria

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