August 11, 2022

Nevada Sorghum Workshop | Part 1 | Dr. Maninder Walia on Sorghum and Sorghum Production

3 min read

With Nevada’s harsh weather and low precipitation, producers are considering crop and irrigation options that use less water than traditional crops such as alfalfa, that maintain a high yield and profitability. Researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno have been exploring sorghum as an alternative crop for Nevada, and are offering a free virtual workshop on their findings.

“Water is becoming less available for crop production,” Maninder Walia, assistant professor and field crop specialist with the College’s Extension unit, said. “Producers in Nevada are looking for opportunities to grow crops that require less water, and sorghum is such a crop.”

In addition to a presentation by Walia on the basics of growing sorghum, the workshop will include presentations by Assistant Professor Melinda Yerka, Assistant Professor Alejandro Andrade-Rodriguez and Associate Professor Robert Washington-Allen, all with the College’s Experiment Station unit.

Specific topics include:
Basics of sorghum production, presented by Walia.
Update on new varieties of sorghum being bred for Nevada, presented by Yerka.
Irrigation management of grain sorghum under full and deficit irrigation, presented by Andrade-Rodriguez. He will discuss how to manage sorghum during normal conditions when water is available, and during drought conditions when water is limited.
New technologies for aboveground and belowground measurements of new varieties of crops, presented by Washington-Allen. He will discuss how technology is being used to measure the effects of different irrigation methods on traits of different sorghum varieties, including root depth, plant height and biomass. He will also discuss technology being used to measure how four different sorghum varieties respond to high levels of salt in the soil.

Walia works with both researchers and local producers to test new crop varieties to enhance agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability by adopting strategies such as soil amendments, reduced or no-tillage, alternate cropping systems, cover crops, and nutrient management strategies to improve crop and soil quality.

Yerka has been studying sorghum and other alternative crops since before she joined the College in 2017. Her sorghum breeding program is developing varieties specifically tailored for commercial production in northern Nevada and California.

Andrade-Rodriguez’s research focuses on irrigation management practices specific to Nevada. Recently, he has been working with Walia, Yerka and Washington-Allen to identify how sorghum responds to different nitrogen and irrigation treatments.

Washington-Allen studies how to apply innovative technology, including drones, laser scanning, ground-penetrating radar, virtual and augmented reality tools, geographic information systems, and remote sensing, to improve crop sustainability, especially in Nevada’s climate.

For more information, email Walia at

For more information on crop studies being conducted by researchers in the College, visit the Experiment Station website.

Extension is a unit of the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources engaged in Nevada communities, presenting research-based knowledge to address critical community needs. It is a county-state-federal partnership providing practical education to people, businesses and communities. For more information on its programs, visit

The University of Nevada, Reno, is a public research university that is committed to the promise of a future powered by knowledge. Nevada’s land-grant university founded in 1874, the University serves 21,000 students. The University is a comprehensive, doctoral university, classified as an R1 institution with very high research activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Additionally, it has attained the prestigious “Carnegie Engaged” classification, reflecting its student and institutional impact on civic engagement and service, fostered by extensive community and statewide collaborations. More than $800 million in advanced labs, residence halls and facilities has been invested on campus since 2009. It is home to the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine and Wolf Pack Athletics, maintains a statewide outreach mission and presence through programs such as the University of Nevada, Reno Extension, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, Small Business Development Center, Nevada Seismological Laboratory, and is part of the Nevada System of Higher Education. Through a commitment to world-improving research, student success and outreach benefiting the communities and businesses of Nevada, the University has impact across the state and around the world. For more information, visit

Reno Nevada News Source: UNRExtension

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