LUBBOCK, Texas — On Monday, Texas Tech University announced the school is taking the lead in one of the largest projects funded by the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP).

Krishna Jagadish, a professor and the Thornton Distinguished Chair in the Department of Plant and Soil Science, will lead a team of researchers looking to improve grain sorghum.

According to a press release from TTU and the Texas Tech Today website, Jagadish received $1.6 million in funding in partnership with Texas A&M University, Kansas State University, the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service locations in Lubbock and Manhattan, Kansas, and industry partners.

“The project brings together major public sorghum improvement programs in the U.S.,” Jagadish said. “The trans-disciplinary team aims to achieve the project goals by integrating agronomy, crop physiology, breeding, machine learning and crop and climate modeling.” 

Titled “Transforming grain sorghum’s climatic yield potential and grain quality through trait-based ideotype breeding,” the project is designed to maximize the sorghum crop by determining effective trait combinations for different environments.

Researchers hope to develop trait-based ideotype sorghum hybrids specifically targeted to thrive in water-deficient areas and in areas considered favorable for growing sorghum, the press release and Texas Tech Today said.

The project is scheduled to last five years and incorporate a number of students seeking both master’s and doctoral degrees, giving it the added benefit of helping train the next generation of leaders in the sorghum industry.