The combination of university and private breeding programs has developed a number of good varieties. So, triticale production in the Southeast is not being held back by a lack of high quality seed or high performing varieties, the North Carolina State researcher says.

“There are some very positive reasons why we are interested in growing triticale in North Carolina,” Weisz says.

“We are particularly looking for a triticale variety for use on marginal land that is currently planted to wheat. Triticale is hardier and grows well on soil that is under stress, and it’s resistant to most diseases and insects we have in North Carolina,” Weisz says.

“The big problem is the lack of crop insurance. If triticale is to ever become a popular crop, we will have to show there is a yield advantage to it over wheat. And, the livestock industry will have to get behind triticale production and contract with growers to help with risk management to offset the lack of crop insurance.”

Murphy Brown, headquartered in Warsaw, N.C., isthe livestock production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, Inc. The North Carolina-based company is the world’s largest producer of pork products, and has produced numerous award winning programs to help their contract growers produce quality pork while protecting the environment and preserving family farms.

Recent increases in the price of corn, the primary grain in feeding rations for hogs, combined with ever-increasing grain transportation costs, has led the company to look at alternative, locally produced grain crops to meet the demand for feed by the livestock industry.

Murphy Brown has been instrumental in providing economic incentives and production help for growers to produce more grain sorghum in the Carolinas and Virginia.

The company’s efforts have paid off with a projected huge jump in acres of grain sorghum in North Carolina for the 2012 crop season.

The North Carolina company is putting up more than lip service to grain sorghum production, they are putting money behind it. Murphy-Brown will pay 95 percent of harvest cash price of corn for sorghum delivered to select delivery points.

Pricing can be locked in anytime during CBOT trading hours prior to Dec. 1, 2012.

A signed contract committing to deliver a set number of bushels to a specific delivery point is required.

The company is now looking for crops that can be grown in a double-crop system with grain sorghum. Since much of the grain sorghum land is coming from marginal production land for corn and wheat, there is a naturally occurring need for a crop, like triticale, to be grown on marginal land and used in a double-crop system with grain sorghum.

North Carolina, like most Southeast states, is in a severe grain deficit situation. Whether Murphy Brown, and other livestock-based companies in the Southeast, are willing to offer economically viable contracts for triticale remains to be seen.

If so, grain sorghum and triticale double-cropping, especially on marginal land, may become commonplace in the Upper Southeast.

rroberson@farmpress.com