What is in this article?:
• David Drew says soybeans just weren’t working out on their family farm.
• Peanuts are the primary crop they grow and peanuts and soybeans just don’t mix too well.
• The primary problem with the two crops is proliferation of cyst nematodes, which can be a yield buster in peanuts.
BECCA DREW helped her dad harvest grain sorghum last year and says it wasn’t much different from other grain crops.
Max out labor supply
Both peanut and cotton harvest require 3-4 people to get the crop out of the field and delivered to buying points. Those crops max out his labor supply, so planting and harvesting the grain sorghum later should help smooth out the labor needs on their large farming operation.
Last year they planted part of their sorghum crop with a conventional planter and part with a John Deere grain drill. On the drill, they closed off some of the cups and using a 38-inch overall row spacing were able to plant the crop in twin rows.
The remainder of the sorghum was planted with a conventional planter behind a strip tillage rig.
“We had excellent moisture last year, and we saw absolutely no difference in yield or quality of the grain sorghum. This year, if we get dry weather, I expect to get better results with the strip-tillage system,” Drew says.
Overall, last year the South Carolina grower says there were few problems with grain sorghum. “We didn’t get any really great overall yields, but we saw yields in some fields top 90 bushels per acre, so we know we have the potential to grow good yields of sorghum,” he adds.
As more and more growers grow grain sorghum and as research programs at Clemson University and North Carolina State University gear up for increased production, more and more information will be generated, making growing the crop less of a learning experience.
Clemson University Feed Grain Specialist David Gunter says he expects South Carolina growers will plant something close to 30,000 acres of grain sorghum this year, but it could be more if things work out.
“The poultry industry is buying grain sorghum in South Carolina as well, with Prestige Farms as well as talk of Amick Farms on the Ridge in Central S.C. I really like grain sorghum for our state, particularly as an option to dryland corn, which is so risky to most farms in this state,” Gunter says.
He says research on the crop is ongoing at four locations around the state, with an emphasis on variety trials, but also includes nematode, weed, fungicide and fertility trials.
For growers interested in growing grain sorghum this year, Gunter says they can get production information from Mid Atlantic Grower’s Guide or contact their nearest Extension agent.
From the marketing perspective, Danny Lane, who runs Southeastern Grain Company’s Nichols, S.C., facility, says their company has invested heavily in facilities to improve handling of grain sorghum.
The company can now buy grain from a grower, pick it up at their farm and truck it directly to feed mills in North Carolina.
“We are trying to make selling grain sorghum as simple as we can and to help in any way we can make growing it easier, too,” Lane says.
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