NC Extension Grain Sorghum Team

The last three years have been dismal for a corn grower in the Carolinas. Last year’s drought just about swore growers off of corn, but price is keeping them coming back. Dr. Ron Heiniger, NC State Extension Corn specialist says the warm winter and early spring is getting seed in the ground early:

“I think these growers are looking at planting corn early, and I’m giving them my blessing here, I sure think we have to mention that there’s a possibility that we’ll get caught with our hand in the cookie jar, as far as that late spring freeze, but I think given the trend in weather, it’s just too good an opportunity to pass up here.”

As far as varieties, Heiniger says an informal poll of growers is showing that they’re not taking any chances, and utilizing the newest drought-resistant technology:

“We’ve really looked at that very closely, I’ve been talking to some agents, in fact we’ve been doing some polling on varieties for this year. These varieties that came through here last year showing some drought tolerance, are really now at the top of these growers’ list right now. Several of the varieties did very well; the pioneer 1456, the Dekalb 6805, the 6469 from Dekalb, some of the 77P, 66P, from Syngenta. Those varieties have looked really good last year, these growers have really locked on to those for this growing season as a sort of a ticket to try to ensure themselves against a poor yield this year.”

As far as acreage is concerned in North Carolina, Heiniger is anticipating about the same as 2011:

“I think we’re going to be steady with last year, 780,000 acres of planted corn, maybe just a little below what we did last year. I think last year we had 810-820 planted and about 780 harvested, I think we’re going to start in that 780-790 range this year. So, steady to just slightly below what we were last year at this stage. If price wasn’t so good we certainly would have seen probably more backing off on corn acres. The one thing that’s going to put a little dent in corn is sorghum…interest in sorghum is going to take a little of the early corn acres here.”

Speaking of grain sorghum, it’s generally believed that more than 50,000 acres of sorghum will be planted in North Carolina this year, and as far as new crops go, several Extension specialist are stepping up to the plate to assist growers:

“We’ve got a team working on sorghum this year. Wes Everman is heading that team, he’s the weed science specialist, he’s going to be working with growers on all their weed issues. Dr. Rand Weisz and I are going to be doing the production side of it, with me probably taking the lead roll in that area since I have a background in sorghum, in fact my graduate work was all in grain sorghum. So, there’ll be three of us, we’ve got some plots that we’re putting in across the eastern part of the state both to look at hybrid selection and management practices. So, we’ve got what I think is a pretty strong team approach here, and I think there’ll be some pretty good information for growers that are looking at that crop.”

Dr. Ron Heiniger, NC State Extension Corn and sorghum specialist.


image courtesy of is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.