“Absolutely, we will take as much grain sorghum as we can get,” Coffey says. “Our lab studies show that grain sorghum has about 95 percent the energy benefits of corn in our rations, so we are excited about using more sorghum, and we are willing to pay for it,” he adds.

Another primary way Murphy-Brown has chosen to increase grain production in the three-state area is to find ways to increase wheat yields and to spur increased wheat production.

With prices good and marketing opportunities plentiful, North Carolina wheat growers responded with one of the largest crops on record.

Dan Weathington, executive director of the North Carolina Grain Growers Association, says when all the 2012 planting is done, there will likely be close to a million acres of wheat in North Carolina alone.

Improving acreage is one thing, but increasing yields is a different story.

Weather related problems, including a damaging April freeze, held yields down last year in the Upper Southeast, but optimism is high for the 2012-2013 crop.

“Based on what we have seen, wheat yields over the past few years remain about 10 bushels per acre below realistic yield potential,” Coffey says. “Getting both acreage and yield up will give growers the best opportunity to make a profit,” he adds.

In addition to wheat and grain sorghum, Murphy-Brown has funded research initiatives to evaluate triticale and other grain crops for use in the Southeast.

“We understand our long-term sustainability in the livestock business is directly related to the long-term viability of grain production in our back yard,” Coffey says. A big part of sustainability is profitability, and we are dedicated to helping our growers be profitable, regardless of what grain crop they grow, he adds.

Murphy-Brown isn’t the only grain buyer in the Carolinas and Virginia, but with roughly a billion dollars invested in the infrastructure of grain and livestock and with another billion dollars a year in feed ingredient purchases, they are a major player.

“We understand we have to get at least half the grain we feed to livestock from our three-state area, and we are committed to doing that. In a little more than a year, we’ve seen grain sorghum acreage go up dramatically and a renewed interest in wheat production that give us 30 million bushels of new local production this coming year,” Coffey says.

We also understand that helping growers be more efficient and profitable in grain production is vital to our success, and we are committed to being a sustainable livestock and grain purchasing company in the Southeast for a long time.”

rroberson@farmpress.com