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Scientists Look to Extend Sorghum-Growing Region

In an effort to expand sorghum's production range - USDA scientists are looking to increase the crop's cold tolerance. An Agricultural Research Service plant physiologist has found cold-tolerance genes in Chinese cultivars and is working to develop lines that breeders can use to produce hardy commercial varieties. The hope is that by increasing the cold tolerance of sorghum - its range can be extended beyond the sorghum belt into the Dakotas and west to Colorado. It currently stretches from Texas to Kansas and includes parts of Nebraska.

By crossing one of the most promising cold-tolerant lines from China with a cold-sensitive sorghum variety - the researchers have produced 171 inbred lines. These lines have been released to breeders and research groups through the ARS Germplasm Resources Information Network. A genetic map of 141 genetic markers has also been published to make it easier for breeders to identify cold tolerance.

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