Temple Rhodes of Chestnut Manor Farms was recently named the Maryland first-place winner in the Dryland No-Till East division of the 2023 National Sorghum Yield Contest. Rhodes planted Sorghum Partners 58M85 DT and yielded 164.65 bushels per acre on his Queen Annes County farm.

S&W Seed Co. chatted with Rhodes to learn how he won the yield competition and hear how Double Team™ Sorghum gives growers like Rhodes unprecedented over-the-top control of common grass weeds that are responsible for reducing yield and profitability.

To learn more about Double Team Sorghum and other varieties, visit doubleteamsorghum.com.

Q: Tell us a little about your farming operation:

A: Chestnut Manor Farms is a family operation that is run by me and my wife, Caroline, and our two sons, Alexander and Temple. I also work with my father and nephews, who run other operations but we all come together and help each other with the day-to-day duties when needed.

Additionally, I’m one of the seven owners of XtremeAg, which has become an integral part of what we do on the farm. XtremeAg is a group of farmers from across the United States, and we are a trial and data company – in short, we like to make mistakes, so you don’t have to. We make all the mistakes and try to figure what the flaws are, how to get the product to work or fail.

Q: You planted sorghum for the first time in 20 years last year. Tell us about your experience.

We were getting ready to take our wheat crop off last spring and had a tremendous amount of deer damage. My dad suggested that I let the acres lay fallow because I’d be throwing good money after bad if I put soybeans in as the deer would mow them to the ground.

I had previously talked to Dan (Gard) about growing sorghum and asked if he could help me learn more. Once I decided I was going to double-crop with sorghum, I reached out to Tommy Roach from Nachurs Alpine Solutions, a sponsor of XtremeAg, to help with the process. Prior to running this fertility company, Tommy was a sorghum breeder and was very excited about me growing sorghum. I worked with him and we used his fertility program.

We put in 165 acres of sorghum and followed everything exactly – when to apply fertilizer, when to apply weed control, etc. After doing what I did and learning what I’ve learned, I’m increasing to about 650 acres. I’m taking a bigger portion of my acreage for sorghum. My ability to dry and store grain makes the crop a little more valuable to me. I can get a little better ROI than just selling it out of the field.

When I grew sorghum before, I grew it just like I grew corn or soybeans and planted it in early May. This was my first time growing it as a double crop. Knowing what it can do now as a double crop, that’s a 100 percent win. I can cut 100 bu./acre of wheat and then come back behind and put 100 bu./acre of sorghum behind that crop.

I can grow sorghum in sandy conditions, or I can grow it in high drought conditions, I can grow it in high heat conditions, and in conditions where the wildlife is devastating me. Birds can be a problem, but as long as you take your crop out in a timely manner, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Q: What do you like about growing sorghum?

A: When I planted this, other guys were warning me that I would have to look out for grassy weeds. I had just cut 120 bu./acre of wheat off the field so there was a tremendous amount of residue on the ground. We went in and planted it and sprayed chemistry on the field. Then we let the sorghum come up and sprayed it according to the label. We never saw another piece of grass in the field. Those fields were as clean as if they were Round-Up Ready. There were no weeds in them at all.

Q: In closing, what advice would you give to other farmers thinking about growing sorghum?

A: Dan recommended that I contact local buyers to make sure I had a market for the crop in my area. That’s important – you must create a relationship with the buyer before growing this crop, at least in my area (Maryland). So that’s what I did – I created a relationship with the buyers and started forward contracting my sorghum based on what I thought I could grow.

Secondly, I would try it on a small basis and push the outside limits so you can figure out your actual return on your investment before going with more acreage.

To learn more about Rhodes’ farm and his experience with XtremeAg, please visit: https://www.xtremeag.farm/growers/temple-rhodes.

To learn more about Double Team Sorghum and other varieties, visit doubleteamsorghum.com.

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Grassy Weed Reference Chart

Grass Species% Yield ReductionSources
Johnson Grass100%Bean (1991)
Shattercane80-96%Stahlman and Wicks (2000), Original Veseckt et al (1973)
Longpine Sandbur42%Thompson, Dille, and Peterson (2017), Original Fabrizius (1998)
Yellow Foxtail44%Stahlman and Wicks (2000), Original (Feltner et al (1969b))
Barnyardgrass44%Stahlman and Wicks (2000), Original (B.A. Smith(1990))
Prairie Cupgrass42%Stahlman and Wicks (2000), Original (Stahlman and Northam (1992))
Texas and Brown Panicum80%Garcia et al (2019)

Seeding Rate

If planting in 20 inch rows or less always use the higher rates. Increase seeding rate by 20% if planting is delayed significantly to account for lower tillering rates.

Yield GoalSeed/acre
<80 bu/acre< 4,500 lbs/acre25-30,000
80-125 bu/acre4,000-5,600 lbs/acre40-55,000
125+ bu/acre7,000+ lbs/acre55-70,000