If you know what grain sorghum is you’re probably familiar with the red colored grain that we see grown in our area. There are, in fact, many versions and colors of this grain and one variety notable for its potential health benefits was developed here at Texas A&M. Bill Rooney is a Texas A&M Professor and specializes in Sorghum Breeding and Genetics.
“One of the interesting things about these dark colored sorghums is that they have very high anti-oxidant concentrations and they are also very effective at slowing the rate of starch digestion or the glycemic index is low on these compared to other sources of starch so when you eat them they don’t digest as quickly which can be good for folks that have type two diabetes and things like that.”
Rooney says that it took about ten years to develop the first hybrid.
“And in the early teens 2012, 2013, we licensed the first hybrid that we called onyx which was a black hybrid, a black grain hybrid, dark, dark colored grains that was made available and licensed by Silver Palate Industries, a specialty food company out of the northeast and they have marketed that product onyx in their cereals.”
Rooney points out that growers of this crop are compensated at a premium level relative to what they would have grown.
“So the new thing that’s happened in the last year or so is that we’ve developed another version of onyx that we simply called Onyx 2, with the same color profile, same anti-oxidants and potential health benefits except it has higher yield potential. So this improvement was basically for both the producer and end-user so that the cost of them acquiring the grain and being able to meet larger market demand is more easily fulfilled.”
Onyx 2 will be available to growers next year.