Researching Drought Tolerance
Jeff Dahlberg recently retired as the director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier. In addition to his administrative duties, he had been doing extensive research with sorghum, a crop he originally became fascinated by as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, decades earlier.
Dahlberg…. “I do think sorghum will become a much more important cereal crop. Unfortunately, it's not wheat, so it doesn't have gluten. So, it doesn't make a nice gluten bread product, which most people are used to. But it does have other characteristics that make it somewhat unique. So for anyone with gluten intolerance, it's a really nice gluten-free flour.”
But the real appeal to this crop is the fact that it is one of the most drought-tolerant cereal crops that we grow.
Dahlberg… “This crop does use considerably less water than most cereal crops. It does tolerate less inputs. It's grown on a lot of marginal lands. I think that's just going to become more and more important. And one of the things that I was doing in conducting research here on the center was trying to understand that drought tolerance. And so I think we made some really keen observations in the 10 years that we were doing the work here through some really significant grants from the department of energy, looking at drought tolerance in sorghum.”
Dahlberg hopes that sorghum research will lead to a better understanding of drought tolerance overall.