NC State Extension Small Grain Specialist Dr. Randy Weisz is one member of a team of specialists that have made grain sorghum production in the Carolinas a reality. While generally considered a good growing year for most crops in the Carolinas, Weisz says this was an exceptional debut year for sorghum:
“There is tremendous excitement about the sorghum crop this year. We had really good weather for sorghum, yields were excellent and even people who planted very late were getting some sorghum harvested. We planted some in July and we are getting 30-40 bushel yields about 10 days ago. I think people were happy across the board. It would not surprise me if acreage increased next year.”
When first rolled out early this year, grains sorghum was sold to producers as a crop to plant in problem areas, and Weisz says it’s delivered:
“My impression is that people have been very happy with it. If you have been in a continuous wheat double crop rotation and on very sandy soils, and fighting with herbicide resistant weeds, the move to sorghum gave them the opportunity to get around the nematode problem, the herbicide resistant weed problem and this year to make a very nice crop. I think folks have been very happy with the crop.”
The past few years have been challenging for producers when it comes to moisture, and while sorghum is generally considered to be drought tolerant, this might not have been the year to test that theory:
“That’s the big excitement about sorghum. You would anticipate that in a typical summer when we have the small dry periods that really hurt the corn, that sorghum would do much better. That is the third piece of the puzzle, being able to plant something that will do better than corn. It will be interesting to see when we have a more typical dryer summer, how sorghum does. That is when we anticipate that growers will say it was a much better idea than planting corn.”
And when there is a more typical summer weather pattern, Weisz says sorghum is going to create an interesting contrast to corn:
“We had exceptionally high yielding sorghum. I don’t think it will be that high on a dry year, but it will be interesting to see how much better it does than corn.”
For more on our series on alternative crop series, click here.
Dr. Randy Weisz, NC State Small Grain Specialist.