Though final proof will be in the harvest, Monroe, N.C., grower Allan Baucom says the 1,000 acre investment in grain sorghum looks like a really good fit in their production system.

One impetus for growing milo, or grain sorghum, comes from a well-planned and well-implemented move by Warsaw, North Carolina-based livestock buyer Murphy-Brown.

David Hull, a grain buyer for Murphy-Brown’s Laurinburg, N.C., facility says the growth in grain sorghum production in the state has been encouraging.

It is unusual, if not unique, that a company comes to farmers, offers a good price, and helps with production issues before a crop goes into the ground, says South Carolina Small Grains Specialist David Gunter.

In the past growers have tried growing a number of new crops, found they could grow the crop, but after the crop was harvested had no market for the end product, he says.

With the new marketing opportunity for grain sorghum from several grain buyers, combined with Murphy-Brown’s strong push with growers, production in North Carolina is expected to be near 50,000 acres, roughly five times the acreage from 2011.

Clemson University Researcher Jim Frederick says South Carolina production is up some this year, but he contends growers in the Palmetto State will follow North Carolina with a significant increase in grain sorghum acreage next year.

Both the Carolinas and Virginia are heavily invested in livestock production and all are in a grain deficit situation. Hull says Murphy Brown is firmly committed to buying all the grain they can locally and to helping growers figure out the best way to get alternative grain crops, like grain sorghum, into their rotation.

The push for more grain crops has bumped acreage up among both small and large acreage producers. The primary stimulus to farmers, like Baucom, appears to be having a firm market for their crops, though he notes grain sorghum fits into his operation from a number of perspectives.

Baucom grows corn, soybeans, and has a large cotton operation. A.L. Baucom Inc. also grows a number of vegetable crops and operates a roadside store to market crops. Finding a crop that fits into such a diverse operation isn’t always a simple thing to do.