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.
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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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