Grain sorghum acreage in North Carolina jumped from about 10,000 acres in 2011 to 70,000 acres last year.

Whether the continued rise in acreage makes to the magic 100,000 acre mark this year is likely to be in large part determined by the availability of high quality seed.

Long-time agriculture leader and current executive director of the North Carolina Grain Growers Association Dan Weathington, says, “I’ve been in and around the seed business for a long, long time, and I can tell you it takes time to build a seed supply. It’s really tough when you’re trying to increase acreage as much as we’ve done in North Carolina.”

Weathington says 100,000 acres may be possible in 2013, but it will take a lot of coordination among seed dealers and growers.

It may also take some significant coordination by Murphy-Brown, the North Carolina grain buying company which has been the primary impetus for increased sorghum production in the state and in border areas of South Carolina and Virginia.

Barney Bernstein, a senior associate with North Carolina-based Entira, who works as a grain consultant for Murphy-Brown says, “On April 2, Murphy Brown issued a statement to growers, speaking to the need for farmers to contact their retailers to line up seed. 

“Most of the distributors I’ve spoken with are out of inventory at their main warehouses, but have limited seed available at retail locations. 

“Due to the limited shelf life of seed they are reluctant to purchase more until they sell out at retail locations,” he says.

“Our concern is that with the complex cropping options Southeast growers have, they often wait until they need seed to buy seed. If farmers wait this year, we will run into a shortage, primarily because there won’t be enough time to treat, bag and transport seed from primary seed production areas in Texas.