Despite all the hoopla over a bacon shortage driven by high corn prices, North Carolina hog producers continue to increase production.

Corn did soar to more than $8 per bushel during the latest reporting period, but apparently the high price of feed won’t mean a temporary end for bacon and other pork products.

Murphy-Brown, grain buyers for Virginia-based Smithfield Farms, the nation’s largest producer of pork products certainly eased the blow of high corn prices, which are pushed even higher by transportation costs to grain deficit North Carolina, by pushing grain sorghum production in the Upper Southeast.

Grain sorghum production in North Carolina alone increased five-fold over 2011 levels. And, at 95 percent of the price of corn, grain sorghum proved more profitable than corn for some growers.

For hog producers across the Upper Southeast the beat goes on. In North Carolina, for example, all hogs and pigs on Sept. 1, 2012 totaled 9.2 million head, up 6 percent from June 1. Market hogs, at 8.33 million head, were down slightly from last year and up 6 percent from last quarter.

The future doesn’t look like a bacon shortage either. Breeding stock totaled 870,000 head in North Carolina alone, up 2 percent from last year and unchanged from June 1, 2012.

Overall, the state’s pig crop was statistically no different this summer than last summer. The North Carolina pig crop during the June — Aug. 2012 period totaled 4.46 million head, down 1 percent from the same period last year.

Though smaller in scale than pork production in North Carolina, Virginia reports similar production levels, compared to last summer. Overall, Virginia is expected to produce more than $500 million in pork products this year, which is comparable to last year’s production.

rroberson@farmpress.com