“If anything, growers may see an increased effort to maximize Southeast grain production and minimize dependence on grain from the Midwest,” Butler says.

Murphy-Brown is owned by Smithfield Foods.

“If we can make grain work in a pig diet, we are committed to buying it. Rains and poor wheat harvest conditions produced a lot of low quality grain, and we were glad to buy it — often at times when some people didn’t think we would buy it,” Butler adds.

“In Virginia, we are committed to increasing grain sorghum production much as we have done in North Carolina,” Butler says.

He adds that grain sorghum acreage in North Carolina when Murphy-Brown first began their push in the Southeast was about 6,000 acres, and this year it is likely more than 100,000 acres have been planted.

David Hull, a grain buyer for Murphy-Brown, was instrumental in the rapid increase in grain sorghum acreage in North Carolina.

He was recently relocated from North Carolina  to Williamsburg, Va., by the company.

“In terms of building sorghum acreage, there are significant differences between North Carolina and Virginia,” Hull says. “For one thing there is less sandy land that is not well suited for most crops, but on which grain sorghum does well,” he adds.

Despite the significant differences, Hull says there may well be 25,000-30,000 acres of grain sorghum in southeast Virginia in the next couple of years.

“I base that number on my conversations with a number of growers who are planting sorghum for the first time this year. One grower in particular told me he planted 1,100 acres of sorghum on land that was targeted to go into double-crop soybeans, he says.

“Statewide, I think somewhere in the 50,000-60,000 acre range is very possible, if not likely in the next couple of years.”