Sarah Sexton-Bowser has been named managing director of the Center for Sorghum Improvement based at Kansas State University. She will start her new role Sept. 12.
The center is focused on expanding markets for sorghum and increasing the average national sorghum yield from 61.95 bushels per acre to 100 bushels per acre by 2025 by funding research in such areas as plant breeding and field-level management. Those goals are outlined in an agreement between the United Sorghum Checkoff Board, the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and K-State.
“The new Center for Sorghum Improvement has been a long time coming. Featuring collaboration between the university, and national and state entities, this cooperative agreement will make K-State the world’s destination for sorghum research and outreach,” said John Floros, dean of K-State’s College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension. “Sorghum producers in Kansas, the U.S. and beyond will be impacted by the center’s efforts. We value the strong leadership Sarah brings to the center, based on her years of experience and contacts in the sorghum industry, and look forward to working with her.”
Sexton-Bowser brings an extensive background in the grain industry to her new role. She served as a regional director with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program and as vice president of membership services and external affairs for the Kansas Grain and Feed Association, Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association and Kansas Association of Ethanol Processors.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics with a specialty in political science at Kansas State University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas.
“Sarah is an extremely driven, results-oriented leader. She and her husband are actively engaged in farming which further strengthens her commitment to maximize these investments to help sorghum growers,” said Tim Lust, CEO of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program.
“The sorghum industry is prime for a focused, collaborative vision and vision execution to drive the domestic sorghum industry,” said Sexton-Bowser. “Farmers need enhanced cropping options to meet today’s demands to continually push for farm efficiency and productivity. The center is uniquely positioned to foster collaboration targeted towards enhancing productivity, value and demand for the domestic sorghum farmer.”
In addition to a commitment to increase crop yield, the agreement between K-State, the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and the Sorghum Checkoff calls for efforts to increase demand for sorghum to 1.25 million bushels by 2025. This includes the expansion of international markets, food use within the United States, livestock feeding, ethanol production and specialty products.
Sorghum typically sells for less than corn. By increasing sorghum yield while at the same time expanding demand for sorghum, Sexton-Bowser and her team will work to decrease the trading discount of sorghum to corn from 4.6 percent to 2 percent by 2025.
The center and its work is supported by a $2 million investment from the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and $2 million from the Sorghum Checkoff, both made in annual payments of $200,000 for 10 years, as well as an $800,000 investment from K-State.