Texas Sorghum Insider

May 6, 2015

Anti-Ethanol Bills Continue to Appear in State Legislature – Despite data that shows plants provide needed input for strong rural communities and feed ingredients for a growing dairy industry, bills against ethanol keep popping up at the state capitol. Recently, bills were heard in various committees that range from banning the sale of ethanol in the state (HB 1693 – Isaac, Dripping Springs) to limiting the use of ethanol in state vehicles (HB 3835 – Isaac) to a bill that would exclude utilizing E85 vehicles in the state fleet to meet mandates of emission reductions and rather, convert current fleets to cng (HB 3518 – Landgraf, Midland) despite an $8,000 price tag per vehicle. Undoubtedly the most damaging of the bills, to ban the sale of ethanol in the state, met stiff resistance in the House Ag Committee when all testimony was focused on the positives of ethanol. Included in comments were that ethanol is a $1 billion industry that affects grain producers, rural work forces, and end-users that utilize distillers grains in their rations. Data was also presented that showed a noted improvement in air quality, particularly in non-attainment areas, and the fact that grain carry-out stocks are well over a billion bushels with capacity to grow to 2 billion bushels. Most notable was, that while ethanol production is at a near all time high, the consumer price index for food has decreased to 9 percent of disposable income as compared to 11 percent of disposable income in the most previous years.  TGSA will continue to monitor aforementioned bills as well as other bills that are damaging to the agricultural economy.

Sugarcane Aphid Program Available – Last month Sorghum Partners, a registered Chromatin, Inc. brand, announced a downloadable Sugarcane Aphid Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. Even though the sugarcane aphid has been a problem on some sorghum acres across the state the past few seasons, it can be controlled with the use of best management practices. This online program combines the use of multiple pest control tactics to help mitigate the effects of the sugarcane aphid pest on sorghum. Click here to download the Sorghum Partners Sugarcane Aphid IPM program.

Sorghum Demand Remains Strong – The popularity of sorghum continues to grow; according to the US Grains Council, the grain is currently the world’s fifth-largest grain by output.Some factors for grain sorghums popularity are things most are familiar with, ranging from drought tolerance to current global demand—particularly in China where they use the grain to feed hogs and chickens. Another growing use of grain sorghum in China is production of a whiskey-like liquor called baijiu, a traditional drink often referred to as Chinese moonshine. It is, in fact, the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the modern world. So popular is this drink that even a Texas-based distiller is making baijiu to sell to the growing number of Chinese nationals living in the United States. The company reports domestic sales of the liquor climbed nearly 6 percent over last year. Grain sorghum is also one of the most inexpensive crops to plant. According to USDA estimates, producers will spend about $142 an acre to grow grain sorghum this year, potentially making it a better crop choice considering USDA cost estimates for other crops. Federal officials project farmers will spend about $497 per acre this year to grow cotton, over $350 an acre to grow corn, and $181 to grow soybeans. Taking all of these factors into consideration, sorghum acres are expected to increase this year nationwide by as much as 14 percent as cotton and soybean acres fall. That’s according to a Bloomberg Planting Survey released last month.

NSP’s 2015 #fromthefield Photo Contest – National Sorghum Producers (NSP) 2015 #fromthefield photo contest is running from May 1 – November 15, 2015 in three different series – plant, grow and harvest. To enter the contest, post a photo to your personal facebook, twitter or instagram and use the hashtags: #fromthefield, #sorghum and the series that you are entering. You may enter multiple series. Series 1 (May 1 – June 15) submit any photo relating to sorghum taken during the 2015 planting season and use #plant15; Series 2 (June 15 – August 15) submit any photo relating to sorghum taken during the 2015 growing season and use #grow15; Series 3 (August 15 – November 15) submit any photo relating to sorghum taken during the 2015 harvest season and use #harvest15.