After grain sorghum blasted on to the agricultural scene in 2012, one would think that every producer that was interested in the crop was involved. But, not so says NC State Extension Weed Science specialist Dr. Wesley Everman. There have been several grain sorghum informational meetings the past few months, and Everman says there’s been upwards of 60 producers at each one. Everman talks about the aspects producers are finding of interest when considering the crop for their farms:
“It gives a little more flexibility and drought insurance compared to corn. It will sit there in hot weather, and if you get rain it will keep going, where corn can suffer greatly in hot dry weather. Sorghum will sit and come on later. Even if it puts a head out when its hot and dry and doesn’t make anything on that head, it tillers and you will get something out of it. You may not get 100 bushels but you would get 40 or so.
Some of the growers coming to these meetings are ones who don’t have the ability or want to incur the cost of irrigation. Some are smaller farmers who feel that if it weren’t for sorghum they may not be farming, it helps out with rotation as well. It gives some more yield than they were getting with corn.
The stubby nematode could be an issue for sorghum.
The primary interest in sorghum has been its drought tolerance. There have been some people who were interested but didn’t have a market. Now that there is a good market and they are getting 95% of corn price for something that costs a lot less to put in. You don’t have all the money in breeding so it tends to be cheaper per unit.”
Murphy-Brown LLC, the production arm of Smithfield Foods is largely behind the resurgence in grain sorghum in the Carolinas, and has said they will buy every load delivered to them.