What is in this article?:
• There are many benefits to growing grain sorghum in the Southeast.
• Among those benefits are the fact the crop does well under dry conditions and on poorer soils, and is less susceptible to deer pressure.
SOUTH CAROLINA grower Doug O’Tuel, right, discusses grain sorghum plans with Murhphy-Brown Buyer David Hull.
North Carolina-based grain company, Murphy-Brown, is pushing grain sorghum production in the Carolinas in 2012, and they are putting money on the table to make it happen.
Though Murphy-Brown isn’t the only company pushing for more grain sorghum production in the poultry and hog rich, but grain poor Carolinas, they are making the biggest push.
David Hull, a grain buyer with Murphy-Brown, says there are many benefits to growing grain sorghum in the Southeast:
• Sorghum provides a better risk adjusted return on marginal farmland;
• Sorghum is less susceptible to deer pressure;
• Sorghum provides effective herbicide programs in fields where glyphosate resistant Palmer amaranth is a problem;
• Sorghum can be a better double-crop alternative behind wheat than alternatives such as soybeans;
• Sorghum is a ghost crop that can be grown behind failed corn without affecting insurance payouts;
• Sorghum can be a risk management tool as part of a portfolio approach to drought risk;
• Sorghum works well as a rotation crop with peanuts and soybeans;
• Sorghum can add a grass crop to diversify chemical programs and build organic matter in soil particularly on acres that have seen several years of bean-on-bean or broadleaf-on-broadleaf rotations.
Bennettsville, S.C., grower Doug O’Tuel and his son are planning to grow grain sorghum for the first time this year. “I think grain sorghum can be a big advantage in weed control. Farmers in our area are having a big problem with Palmer amaranth that is resistant to glyphosate and grain sorghum in the rotation allows us to use atrazine and Dual,” O’Tuel says.
At one time O’Tuel, who is now semi-retired, was one of the larger cotton growers in South Carolina. Through those years, he says he struggled to find new ways to better manage the soil.
“We don’t have the luxury of having a uniform soil type across our farm. He points to a large field of recently planted corn, noting that one alone consists of four or five different soil types.