“Because there has not been great demand for grain sorghum in the V-C area up until recent years, there has been very little research done on the crop. Even basic best variety information is more than 15-20 years old, but we are working on that problem,” she says.

Balota notes that a cooperative research program among Clemson, North Carolina State, and Virginia Tech has already resulted in one year of variety testing information.

The 2013 crop will add another year of variety information, all of which will bode well for grain sorghum growers in the future, she adds.

One of the major movers in the growth of grain sorghum in the Upper Southeast in recent years has been Murphy-Brown. Early on the company saw that sorghum for swine diets produced about 95 percent the energy of corn when fed to animals. Based on this, they set the market price for grain sorghum as 95 percent that of corn.

You can check current commodity prices now.

In recent weeks there has been some doubt on the future of Murphy-Brown’s interest in grain sorghum because of the impending purchase of their parent company, Smithfield Foods, by a Chinese investment group.

As is the case with most rumors, reality is a whole different story.

According to Don Butler, vice-president for government relations and public affairs for Murphy-Brown, the company’s role as a grain buyer for Smithfield Foods will go on ‘business as usual.’

He adds that farmers will see an even greater commitment from Murphy-Brown to promote additional grain production, in the Southeast, including increased emphasis on grain sorghum production.

Butler says, “We expect the Shuanghui International purchase to go through sometime in the fourth quarter of this year, and from everything we’ve been told Murphy-Brown will continue with our commitment to increase grain production in the Southeast.