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(Left) Texas Farm swine facilities in the background provide a positive local basis option for the Tregellas’ sorghum. (Below) Blake uses on-farm data to help him make informed decisions when it comes to variety and input selection.

“It has brought us this far, so we hope it will take us on through.”

Tregellas Family Farms is located in the North Plains Groundwater Con- servation District, which currently enforces a pumping limit of 21-inches per acre. While the Tregellases are mostly a dryland operation, other area farmers with irrigated corn may be facing an uphill batt le with contin- ued dry weather.

“I think that as this drought progress- es we may see producers in this area go more to sorghum,” Blake said.

No-till, fewer problems

Tregellas Family Farms has been 100 percent no-till since 2004.

“It’s really amazing when you dig down underneath the crop residue to see how much more soil moisture is maintained in no-till,” Blake said. “No-till has been a big benefi t to us.”

The practice not only helps maintain soil moisture, a precious commodity during times of drought, but it also helps reduce weed pressure.


While they wait for the commercial- ization of an over-the-top weed and grass control option, applying pre- emergent herbicide to their sorghum has worked well. Plus, the no-till rotation allows them to catch weeds during the fallow and wheat stages. Keeping fi elds clean in between the wheat and sorghum rotation keeps weed pressure down, while saving as much moisture as possible.

“Weed control is key for us,” Blake said. On-farm research

Taking care of production matt ers, fertilizer and chemical purchases, and crop and seed selection are all part of Blake’s role on the farm.

He has also turned the farm into his very own agricultural research lab.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve our effi ciency and bott om line,” he said. “Weve done a litt le on-farm research to compare for ourselves what works the best for our farm and this area.”

Blake keeps a notebook in the com- bine cab to record data that is mea-

sured by the grain cart scales. Fol- lowing harvest, he enters the fi eld data into a spreadsheet to compare diff erent sorghum varieties, fertilizer treatments and fungicide treatments.

The Tregellases have also mapped their fi elds over the past several years, which allows them to compare the performance of diff erent varieties by viewing spots in the fi elds.

“It’s not as formal as a university trial, but it is a real world example of what applies to our area.”

In recent years, Blake has off ered acres to Pioneer, which has conducted sor- ghum trials on his farm.

“I like to see that [research] in our own backyard because our area gets to fi nd out exactly what works the best here.”

Seeding rate also plays a role in yield success, Blake says. After starting with a seeding rate of 18,000 in the early 90s, the Tregellases have upped the rate over the years to prevent any yield drag.

“We typically plant between 22,000 and 24,000 seeds per acre, which has worked

SORGHUM Grower Fall 2011

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