Ag Weather Forum

Drought Leads To More Sorghum

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
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USDA's acreage intentions numbers released last week appear to verify an idea that was brought up several times during farm outlook meetings that I participated in this past winter--and that is, more grain sorghum in some of the hardest-hit drought states.

That does seem to be the case. Total grain sorghum acreage in the March 28 planting intentions report came in at 7.62 million acres--a 22 percent increase from 2012 and 39 percent more sorghum acreage than 2011's intentions report.

Within this total, there are some hefty increase state by state. On a percentage basis, Missouri's sorghum intentions total is 69 percent higher than a year ago; Nebraska, up 52 percent; Colorado, up 35 percent; Texas, up 30 percent; Arkansas, up 21 percent; Georgia, up 18 percent; Kansas, up 16 percent; and South Dakota, up 15 percent.

Perhaps a more significant number, though, is the actual acreage number. Kansas and Texas are the top two sorghum-producing states, combining for close to 80 percent of the crop. And in those two states, more than 1 Million acres have been added to the grain sorghum total--400,000 in Kansas (2.5 Million 2012, 2.9 Million 2013) and 700,000 in Texas (2.3 Million 2012, 3.0 Million 2013). Other states had these increases: Colorado 85,000 acres; Nebraska 75,000 acres; Missouri 45,000 acres; and South Dakota 30,000 acres.

Why these sorghum acreage numbers jumped as they did is no mystery--every state with at least a 30,000-acre increase in sorghum acreage had not only extensive drought last year, but has also had hardly any rebound in soil moisture supplies going into this year. And, particularly in the Plains states, that lack of moisture now runs up against lower irrigation water allocations--meaning that sorghum--with water needs running close to 50 percent less than corn--has a larger fan base in the spring of 2013.


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Bryce Anderson
4/4/2013 | 5:47 AM CDT
Lyle, thanks for the comment. I have heard that from other areas as well.
4/3/2013 | 7:23 PM CDT
I would like to plant sorghum but the elevators will not accept it anymore in this area. I have no place to go with it. So I am forced to grow corn and lose money. SE NE
Bryce Anderson
4/3/2013 | 3:14 PM CDT
A couple other details--Texas is in line to surpass Kansas as the top sorghum producing state with its push to 3.0 million acres. Also, Al Dutcher, Nebraska state climatologist, mentioned to me that Oats acreage is also on the rise in the Plains. It certainly is in Nebraska with projected 135,000 acres going into oats this year. That is an 80 percent increase over 2012. Al Dutcher said that most of that will be used for forage because hay production was so low last year.