Today’s Topic: Grain sorghum acreage in N.C. sees big gains in 2012

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

Southern Farm Network logoAbout 50,000 acres of grain sorghum were grown in North Carolina in 2012, a 10-fold increase over the previous year. Commissioner Troxler says the crop has many advantages: It’s drought-tolerant and has flexible planting dates. It’s also not attractive to deer, and there’s no need for specialized equipment or costly inputs.

Grain sorghum also comes with improved rotation and double-crop options for management of plant-parasitic nematodes and difficult weeds. Some farmers double-cropped sorghum after wheat, and are planning to follow up by planting tobacco this year.

Farmers in the Sandhills region are particularly interested in growing grain sorghum. They’ve tried growing corn but found it too risky on the region’s light, sandy soils. Corn needs timely moisture for successful pollination and grain production. The chances of getting enough rain at the right time are highly unpredictable.

There are potential challenges to sorghum. One is weed problems. But one grower told us that, even with weed problems, sorghum can still average 65 bushels an acre.

Click below to listen to the Commissioner and Rhonda talk about grain sorghum’s growing popularity in North Carolina and why the crop could provide opportunities for both field-crop and livestock farmers.

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Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

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