Surprisingly, the new grain sorghum acres may come at the expense of corn.

Monroe, N.C., grower Allan Baucom planted 1,000 acres of grain sorghum this year. “We used 90 percent of corn as the base price in our planning, and sorghum looks like it will be more profitable for us than corn this year,” Baucom says.

More so in the Midwest than the Southeast, many growers prefer corn over grain sorghum because corn “dies” so well. Grain sorghum tends to hang on longer in a drought situation, while corn goes fast and makes it much easier to collect crop insurance.

Planning for failure with any grain crop is a really bad idea. It surely cuts total grain production and in the grain deficit Southeast, that’s a killer for livestock producers, regardless of which grain crop is grown.

Perhaps more importantly, planning for anything other than a bumper crop is a bad message to send out to the non-agricultural public.

Grain sorghum acreage in the Southeast will likely ride along with demand from the poultry industry and to a lesser extent the swine industry and helping livestock producers stay in business is likely to send a positive message to many of the politicians currently petitioning the EPA for reduction or temporary end of the Federal mandate for ethanol production.

David Hull, a grain buyer for Murphy-Brown, says his company is committed to helping livestock producers find lower cost grain.

Shipping cost of grain from the Midwest and Canada, plus the current high price of corn is really hurting the livestock industry in the Carolinas and Virginia, Hull contends.

A problem for the 2012 sorghum crop in the Southeast was availability of high quality seed, because of extreme drought in the region in the 2011 growing season.

This year, sorghum appears to be growing in a near perfect growing season throughout the Southeast, so seed quality and availability should not be a problem.

rroberson@farmpress.com