Successful Sorghum Improvement Conference of North America (SICNA) 2024 Meeting Focused on Sorghum: The Adaptable Crop for Diverse Climates, Landscapes, and Markets

An immensely successful and engaging 2024 SICNA meeting was held at Oklahoma City from April 2-4, 2024, in cooperation with National Sorghum Producers. Organized through effective leadership by Ms. Sarah Sexton-Bowser, Director, Kansas State University, Sorghum Improvement Center  and SICNA board, the 2024 meeting was attended by142 enthusiastic  researchers, students, stakeholders and farmers. The meeting highlighted research and developments in various disciplines and fields associated with overall sorghum improvement including, agronomy and physiology, chemistry, utilization and extension, entomology and plant pathology, and  genomics, biotechnology, and breeding. A total of sixty-one abstracts were featured in the meeting and will be accessible through the 2024 SICNA Proceedings page on SorghumBase.

Leaders in various disciplines conducting state of the art research for sorghum improvement and their latest research findings were featured as speakers. Ms. Jess Christiansen, head of Crop Science Communications at Bayer Crop Science, delivered a stimulating keynote address on sorghum’s role as key crop commodity for mitigation of adverse climate change scenarios. The session provided insights into the fast moving pace of the food sector and societal engagement with ecosystem services and agriculture. The need for sustainable agriculture highlights the many solutions that sorghum brings to the table and the important role of sorghum in today and future crop systems.

This 2024 meeting included an informative and engaging session on farmer’s perspectives and stakeholders’ input on interfacing research and actual production systems and management for sustainable and resilient sorghum farms in North America. Additionally, the National Sorghum Producers (SICNA’s stakeholder partner), recognized Dr. Mike Lenz, Research Director at Innovative Solutions and  Mr. Larry Richardson, CEO of Richardson Seeds for outstanding achievements and contributions to sorghum improvement.

On behalf of the National Sorghum Producers, Mr. Tim Lust recognizes Dr. Mike Lenz (left) and Mr. Larry Richardson (right) for outstanding achievements and contributions to sorghum improvement. Photo credit National Sorghum Producers.

An exciting highlight of the meeting was enthusiastic student participation and competition through Oral research and Poster presentations.

The winners of 2024 SICNA Student Competition were:

  • Winner of Poster Competition: 
    • Gabrielle Scott, Texas A&M University: “Sorghum endosperm with mutant protein body (MPB) trait improve starch functionality and increase the stability of a model food product”
  • Winners of Oral Research Competition: 
    • First Place:  Noah D. Winans, Texas A&M University: “Enhancing productivity of grain sorghum by developing hybrids using public and private sector germplasm”
    • 2nd Place: Donovan Davis, Texas A&M University: “GHG Fluxes of a Grain Sorghum-Winter Wheat Crop Rotation in Three Fields in the Texas High Plains
    • 3rd Place: Pallavi Dhiman, Texas Tech University: “Impact of GBSS1 Gene Knockout on Grain Quality in Sorghum: A Step Towards Comprehensive Understanding.”
Dr. Laura Mayor presents student awards to (top left) Gabrielle Scott (winner – poster competition), (top right) Noah D. Winans (first place – oral research competition), (bottom left) Donovan Davis (second place – oral research competition) and (bottom right) Pallavi Dhiman (third place – oral research competition). Photo credit National Sorghum Producers.

In addition to the research sessions on Breeding & Biotechnology, Agronomy & Physiology, Entomology & Pathology and Utilization & Tech Transfer, there were five focused sessions:

  • USDA ARS Interdisciplinary Sorghum Meeting
  • SorghumBase Workshop – presentations
  • Crop Germplasm Committees (CGC) Sorghum
  • Climate Smart Sorghum
  • Scientific Capacities and Partnerships
Nicholas Gladman kicked off the SorghumBase Workshop at SICNA (Sorghum Improvement Conference of North America). Photo credit SorghumBase Team.
Vivek Kumar gives his talk “Sorghum Community Genotyping Resources” during the CGC meeting at SICNA. Photo credit SorghumBase Team.
Breeding and Biotechnology panel discussion chaired by Terry Felderhoff, Kansas State University, and Nicholas Gladman, USDA-ARS, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Speakers from left to right: Zhanguo Xin, USDA-ARS (“A large sequenced mutant library as a community resource for sorghum breeding and genomics”); Noah Winans, PhD student in Bill Ronney’s lab at Texas A&M University (“Enhancing productivity of grain sorghum by developing hybrids using public and private sector germplasm”); and Yinping Jiao, Texas Tech University (“The dynamic transcriptomic and metabolomic profiling of sorghum seed”). Photo credit SorghumBase Team.