A lot of the success of late-planted grain sorghum goes back to when the grower planted it. If they planted an early maturing variety and if they added the extra nitrogen the plant needed to get up and growing quickly, then they have a chance to make a decent yield.

“They shouldn’t expect the same kind of yield other growers get on sorghum planted in May, but they can get a decent yield,” Heiniger adds.

August, unfortunately, brought only a few days of warm, sunny weather and a continuation of long periods of rainfall and cloudy weather, which will further delay late-planted crops.

Even with early maturing varieties, growers planting beans or sorghum in July were pushing the envelope for freezing temperatures and frost.

Duplin County is in the southeastern part of North Carolina and makes for an interesting look at late-planted soybeans and grain sorghum.

North Carolina State Agriculture Extension Agent Curtiss Fountain advises farmers on crops in the county. At the time growers were deciding whether to plant soybeans, grain sorghum or nothing at all behind washed out corn and/or much delayed wheat, Fountain advised growers to take a close look atinput costs for soybeans or sorghum before deciding which, if either, crop to plant.

Using mid-July prices, Fountain says it would take 20 bushels of soybeans per acre to cover costs and 39 bushels per acre of grain sorghum to cover these expenses. 

 

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A third option is to plant nothing, which is an option plenty of farmers in the Upper Southeast chose this year. Fountain points out there will be a cost to leaving the field fallow.

Weeds and grasses will need to be managed.For example, no one wants to lose the progress made in managing Palmer amaranth, which can happen if seed are allowed to accumulate in fallowed fields. 

Recommended management would likely translate to leaving remaining wheat straw as is and spraying a broad spectrum herbicide such as Gramoxone (and possibly a residual herbicide). More than one herbicide application may be needed prior to frost.