This year we will pay 95 percent of the harvest cash price of corn delivered to our elevators. “We are committed to getting grain sorghum going in the Carolinas and Virginia. Right now (mid-April) the price of grain sorghum delivered to Laurinburg, N.C., is six cents higher than December corn,” Hull says.

The variety of soil type, rotational needs, insurance and other niche reasons for planting grain sorghum adds to its growth potential, but can be a liability when it comes to buying and selling the crop.

“We understand the variety of production programs involved, such as full-season use, double-cropping, even ghost crops resulted in a wide delivery window, making forecasting when we would get sorghum and how much we would get on any particular date difficult.

This year we are spreading out our delivery points and focusing more on elevators that best handle deliveries that are spread out over a long period of time and less regular than at some buying points,” Hull says.

The spread out harvest and delivery history of grain sorghum in the Southeast also means some percentage of the crop is harvested at less than optimum moisture levels. To help growers compensate for high moisture deliveries, Murphy-Brown has reduced their moisture penalty to encourage growers to harvest their sorghum early.

Early harvest reduces the risk of aflatoxin contamination.

To help reduce the risk to farmers, Hull says his company has added drying capabilities at its buying points and offers these services to growers at a greatly reduced price, which will help compensate for any dockages from high moisture grain sorghum deliveries.

According to calculations done by Murphy-Brown Agronomist Josh Gaddy, bushels gained as a result of reduced losses by harvesting sorghum between 18-22 percent moisture will more than pay for the cost of drying under this new discount schedule.

Murphy-Brown’s interest in increasing grain sorghum sprang from a pilot study conducted by the company in 2010. The pilot project, which included 2,000 acres on private farms and 550 acres on company farms, produced yields ranging from 40 to 100 bushels per acre.

Where sorghum was double-cropped after wheat, yields averaged 70 to 80 bushels per acre.

The company is a major producer of hogs, via contract growers, and like most livestock companies, has struggled to find economic strategies to reduce the cost of feeding grain.

Headquartered in Warsaw, N.C., Murphy-Brown employs more than 6,000 people and produces about 17 million market hogs per year.

(For an earlier story on grain sorghum acceptance, this time in eastern North Carolina, visit http://southeastfarmpress.com/grains/grain-sorghum-gaining-favor-eastern-north-carolina).

rroberson@farmpress.com