Sorghum Industry Demonstrates Resilience and Growth Bouncing Back from Two Years of PestilenceTue, 14 Nov 2017 11:46:54 CST
During the National Association of Farm Broadcasters Convention in Kansas City this past week, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn had the chance to speak with Tim Lust, CEO of the National Sorghum Producers, who offered a general update on the condition of this year’s crop and some of the activities the association has been engaged in recently. You can hear their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
According to Lust, the 2017 sorghum crop has been overall a good one, despite falling just short of record yield levels seen in recent years and continued pressure from the sugar cane aphid.
“The last two years, we’ve been blessed enough to break national yield records and we’re not going to quite do that this year,” Lust said. “But we’re going to be within about four or five bushels again. It came along timely and harvest has been rolling extremely well. Overall, another very good crop.”
Lust reports that sorghum harvest is approximately 80 percent done for the year, ahead of normal pace for this time. While sugar cane aphids were a factor again this year, Lust says their impact was minimal, and a “tremendously better situation” for farmers than what they’ve experienced the last few years. He estimates that 15 to 20 percent of growers in the country had to spray for aphids at least once, but very few more than that initial application. The research and resources that NSP provided growers recently showing them how to combat aphid infestations and how farmers utilized it, is evidence of the sorghum industry’s reliance, Lust says.
“The results we talk about are, I think, a testament to growers’ learning,” he said. “Using those best management practices and a combination of a lot of tolerant hybrids - and really learning how you spray and get good coverage, has really helped in that.”
As of right now, Lust reports that he and his team at the NSP are turning their attentions to making sure the voice of sorghum farmers is heard, as discussion continues concerning the 2018 Farm Bill. The group’s board of directors is heavily focused and invested on the PLC program, and have charged Lust with ensuring members’ needs are met, should another low commodity price scenario, as they have experienced this year.
Beyond that, Lust continues to watch the horizon for future opportunities. With the release of a recent campaign, branding sorghum as “The Smart Choice” crop, he says prospects look bright with fresh trade deals coming from China and continued growth in the food and restaurant sector as well, that have resulted in a $0.40 to $0.50 bump in the sorghum basis throughout most of the country.
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