Sorghum Production Making Inroads, Expanding Slowly, NSP President SaysFri, 15 Nov 2013 11:53:48 CST
When it comes to sorghum production on the national radar screen, the crop takes a distant back seat to its bigger brothers corn, wheat and soybeans. If sorghum producer J.B. Stewart from Keyes, Oklahoma, has his way, it won’t be that way for long-at least in areas where water is scarce like the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. Stewart is also the president of the National Sorghum Producers.
He sat down for an interview with Radio Oklahoma Network’s Ron Hays at the recent National Association of Farm Broadcasters meeting in Kansas City, Missouri. He said production in the far western Panhandle has been a little difficult over the past couple of years, but that hasn’t dampened enthusiasm for the crop overall.
“We’ve come through some devastating droughts. This year, however, there was some pretty good sorghum production in our area and throughout Oklahoma. We were a little weak due to some hail storms right in our immediate area, but I know from eastern Texas County through Beaver County and on down towards Enid and Blackwell there were tremendous sorghum yields and quality. It’s been a good year for sorghum and nationwide.”
Stewart said that like everyone else involved in agriculture, sorghum producers have been tracking the farm bill’s progress through Congress. For those working on the bill, it has been a three-and-a-half-year process. He said they are hoping for a conclusion sooner rather than later.
“It’s just great to have it in conference, that’s a giant victory.”
One of the issues addressed in the farm bill is crop insurance. Stewart said that is an absolutely vital concern for sorghum producers at this time.
“Crop insurance is just paramount. We’ve carried that banner for three-and-a-half years of no harm to crop insurance in the farm bill. I just can’t say enough good about what it has done. It has proven itself in the last couple of years-devastating drought in the corn belt. And what happened? It worked. Farmers went to the field this spring, they put in a crop. They weren’t lobbying Washington for an ad hoc disaster program.”
As sorghum production continues growing, Stewart said the drive to find more acres has been an overriding priority of the NSP.
“We’re still considered a very small crop and we’re continually striving to increase acres. And this year we did increase acres by about two million bushels. We were up to eight million bushels this year.
We have some exciting things coming down the pike in sorghum that we think will extend and contribute to our acres. We are having some trait technology research done, some possible ALS over-the-top grass control and that sort thing, which is something that sorghum’s really lacked and made us harder to compete with crops like corn and soybeans and some of those. So, we’re excited about that. And we think that with the depletion of the Ogallala, sorghum’s going to be a wise choice with its water-saving qualities and still getting good production. So we think this technology’s coming on at a good time for sorghum and hopefully we can continue to increase acres.”
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