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Agriculture Today

Grain sorghum plantings up in response to drought

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July 18, 2012 | 3,628 views | Post a comment

By Robert Burns

Texas grain sorghum plantings are up by about 750,000 acres over last year due to several factors, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s planted acreage report released June 29 projected planted acreage at 2.3 million acres, according to Dr. Calvin Trostle, AgriLife Extension agronomist, Lubbock.

Corn is a riskier crop than sorghum during a drought for a couple of reasons, he said. One, sorghum is more drought-tolerant, and more likely to produce a crop when there is limited rainfall or irrigation capacity.

Another risk for corn that sorghum doesn’t have is aflatoxin development during dry weather, he said.

“Aflatoxin is just not an issue in grain sorghum the way it is in corn,” Trostle said.

Trostle expected grain sorghum yields to be “fairly good” across Texas. He also noted that the U.S. Department of Agriculture report did not likely take into account recent re-plantings after hailed-out cotton. In the South Plains region, hail-out re-plantings alone could account for another 200,000 acres planted.

“As far as the High Plains area, we have a fair amount of sorghum that was planted in the last two weeks,” he said. “Some of that was primary crop sorghum, with a fair amount of acreage being put in after failed cotton.”

Trostle said on July 9 there was still sorghum being planted in the High Plains, which can succeed even at such a late date, though the grower has to select a hybrid with a short maturity date.

Sorghum plantings in Texas have fluctuated greatly over the last 10 to 20 years, Trostle said. There have been some years where plantings dropped below 2 million acres, and others when it was in the range of 3 to 4 million acres.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported dry, hot weather persisted. Pastures continued to decline. Hay harvesting slowed dramatically. Cattle were beginning to show signs of stress, and producers remained hesitant to restock. Milo and corn were drying down quickly, and the harvest was expected to begin soon.

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported drought prevailed in the southern part of the region. All crops were moisture-stressed. The grain sorghum harvest was in full swing. Most growers were reporting low yields. The cotton harvest was expected to begin soon. Pastures were in poor condition. The area could see more herd liquidations if drought persists. Grasshoppers remained abundant, eating grasses, ornamental plants, and garden plants. There were spotty showers reported in the northern part of the region. Hay was being harvested in the northern counties with near average yields. Livestock producers throughout the region continued to supplement cattle with hay and protein.

Robert Burns has nearly 30 years’ experience writing about agriculture and agricultural-related research. He writes about Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service activities at the Overton Center and centers in Stephenville and Temple.

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