John B. Sieglinger, Father of Combine Milo (1893-1977)Author: A. Bruce Maunder
Bruce Maunder
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In 1915, soon after the establishment of the USDA Southern Plains Range Research Station a recent graduate of Oklahoma A&M and Kansas State University, John Sieglinger, trained in plant genetics, arrived on staff at Woodward, Oklahoma. His challenge: to improve sorghums including broomcorn for the arid southern Great Plains. Sorghum had only recently been introduced to America (some 30 accessions from 1853-1910) as a more resilient, drought tolerant crop. His early success was hidden in the height genetics of the two most commonly grown varieties at the time: Dwarf Yellow Milo in the Southwest and Blackhull Kafir in the more Central and Eastern Great Plains. Both were shoulder high, harvested by hand, and when crossed segregated for plants having an additional recessive gene for height. Following a meeting at Manhattan in 1926, attended by breeders from across the Plains states and an agricultural engineer, discussion suggested the best approach would be to convert the sorghum plant to a shorter and more acceptable combine height as opposed to developing a combine specific for sorghum vs wheat. Sieglinger left this meeting knowing his program had such short varieties including Wheatland. Now, sorghum as a crop suitable to mechanized harvest, was much less labor intensive saving millions of dollars annually. Wheatland, released in 1931 and Redlan, also from Sieglinger in 1948, provided the future hybrid sorghum industry, (1956 -) two significant male steriles of combine height, still used today as hybrid parents. John Sieglinger: leader in mechanization and significant contributor to hybridization.

Additional Information
Bruce Maunder --- National Sorghum Producers, Lubbock, Texas, USA