Sorghum Checkoff Invests in Research and Promotion With Eye on Tangible Results for ProducersWed, 29 Aug 2012 10:31:47 CDT
The United Sorghum Checkoff Program is a relatively new checkoff program- having been established in the 2008-2009 timeframe- and according to the Checkoff's Executive Director Florentino Lopez, the early monies that have been collected has been directed to research that can help develop traits that will create value to producers- either as a trait that enhances production- or can stimulate demand.
Lopez spoke with Ron Hays of the Radio Oklahoma Network at the 2012 Great Plains Sorghum Conference on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. He says that a lot of the early research that has been funded by checkoff money has focused on issues like cold tolerance or drought tolerance. He adds that something they called the "Conversion Project" has been successful early on- helping bring improved genetics to producers in the last couple of years.
Lopez says that a large amount of the current sorghum crop is being utilized for ethanol, but that they are not ignoring the feed or food markets. He believes that demand is there for sorghum- produce it and there will be a place to sell it. In studying supply-demand figures for the last several years- Lopez says there is virtually no carryover of sorghum from year to year- so for producers who are interested in including sorghum in their crop rotation- there is and will be a market.
Regarding ethanol from sorghum- approximately one-third of the U.S. sorghum crop is used for biofuels production. Naturally drought-tolerant, sorghum can be used for many different types of ethanol production including starch-based, sugar-based and cellulosic ethanol production. Sorghum and corn are interchangeable in the grain-based ethanol market. A bushel of grain sorghum produces as much ethanol as a bushel of corn.
When it comes to the food market for sorghum, Lopez says there are great opportunities. He points out that sorghum is high in antioxidants and gluten free. It is a versatile product for individuals living with Celiac disease, an intolerance to gluten which is found in products like wheat and barley.
Click on the Listen bar below to listen to our full conversation with Florentino Lopez- and you can get more information about how the Sorghum Checkoff is investing money to improve profitability in sorghum production by clicking here.
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