Growing Optimism for Sorghum in 2015Fri, 09 Jan 2015 17:57:07 CST
Sorghum acres could bounce back in Oklahoma in 2015. Sorghum has been an iffy crop for many Oklahoma farmers in recent years. With the intense drought persisting over the past three to four years, many farmers have not planted much sorghum. This past year was no different with little sub-soil moisture making it a gamble to plant the crop. Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with National Sorghum Producers Chair J.B. Stewart at Sorghum U held in Enid Friday. Click or tap on the LISTEN BAR to listen to the full conversation.
In looking ahead to the 2015 growing season, Stewart is hoping spring rains return in giving farmers the moisture necessary to grow sorghum.
"We hope that is slowly coming to an end, its guarded optimism," Stewart said.
In farming near Keyes in the Oklahoma Panhandle, Stewart said sorghum has worked well even in a low rainfall environment averaging 16 - 17 inches of rain annually. He plants sorghum in his crop rotation in planting wheat, sorghum, fallow, then back to wheat. Stewart has used this rotation since the early 1980's when he took over the farm and was looking for a way to increase farm income. In planting sorghum, he also found his wheat yields have been better than when he planted a wheat-fallow rotation.
Financially it is also a good time for farmers to consider sorghum. As farmers look at other crops, sorghum is also one of the stronger priced commodities. Stewart said prices are higher in the marketplace right now with growing demand from China. He said this has allowed sorghum basis levels to be better than corn. As long as sorghum can hold onto this market advantage, he believes this will help increase sorghum acres in Oklahoma.
"We need to increase acres, because I think if we had more volume of grain we could actually have a better market," Stewart said.
Stewart has served on the National Sorghum Producers board for many years. In recent years he made his return to the board of directors during the Farm Bill debate. The NSP board felt it was important to have a farmer from Oklahoma's third district represented on the board. This is the same district represented by House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas. While it took longer than expected to get the 2014 Farm Bill signed into law, Stewart said there are several improvements to crop insurance as well as an increased reference price for sorghum to $3.95. This gives farmers more reasons to consider sorghum this year.
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