What is in this article?:
- Grain sorghum a good fit for North Carolina grower
- Has long history
- Same strategy as for corn
• 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.
ALLAN BAUCOM, right, and Murphy-Brown grain buyer David Hull, check irrigated grain sorghum in North Carolina.
Same strategy as for corn
They used the same strategy of soil sampling for fertilizer needs, applying litter and gypsum to build the soil, and essentially did everything just like they do when planting corn.
Milo was planted in a single-crop system in early May and in a double-crop system behind wheat on June 4.
Milo was planted much like they plant corn, using Gramoxone and 2,4-D as a burn-down.
One production challenge with grain sorghum is competition with grass.
“I remember growing grain sorghum as a kid, and grass was a problem then. I think, as with most no-till crops, a real key to growing milo is going to be to start with a really clean field,” he says.
There have not been any significant production problems so far in the growing season, he adds. There are problems with worms that get into the head of the milo plant, and it’s susceptible to a number of disease problems, but nothing we don’t have tools to manage, Baucom says.
He says the 4-week window of planting will likely be compressed to a two-week window of harvesting in mid-September for milo. They plan to harvest it with enough moisture left to reduce shattering and seed loss at harvesting.
Then, milo will be dried and part of it will be held in on-farm storage. Another storage bin was built on the farm this summer to help make room for the milo.
Though some growers use a dessicant to dry down sorghum and make it cleaner for harvest, Baucom says they don’t plan to do so. “There’s so much about growing milo that we don’t know, and using a harvest aid, like we do in cotton, may be one of them.
“However, we feel like it will fit in better with other things we are doing on the farm, to harvest milo a little higher in moisture, dry it down and store it,” he says.
Milo has the potential at least to help the North Carolina grower better utilize harvest equipment. He says by the time milo is ready for harvest, they should be done with corn for the year, will be starting on cotton picking and may have some early maturing beans ready.
“All in all it’s a pretty good fit at harvest time on our farm,” he concludes.