Posted: September 18, 2012
In this area, shallow soils often limit corn yields and growers are looking for more cost effective alternatives. I visited eight to ten fields that were double cropped following hulless or hulled barley.
When I last visited in mid June, these fields were being combined. Now, they had great stands of sorghum just reaching the soft dough stage. Fields were manured, no-tilled and sprayed so costs were minimal for establishment, reducing risks for the growers. On the second set of fields we visited, sorghum was full season, planted in late May and was nearly ready to combine. In some of these fields, the grain was hard and the plant and leaves were dark green (see photo).
The disease resistance of the sorghum was striking compared to corn in these no-till environments where corn foliar diseases are a common problem. The producers indicated that following the combine, they would harvest the rest of the plant for heifer feed and then plant a fall grain like wheat. All of the growers had markets lined up for the grain before planted. Sorghum prices are discounted compared to corn, but still very good. It’s really hard to estimate sorghum yields but I think some of the fields we visited may have been in the 100-125 bushel category.
This trip confirmed to me that grain sorghum may have a place as a low risk alternative on some soils where corn is not often a profitable adventure. And the possibility of double cropping or using the stover can add to the value.
- Professor of Agronomy