Texas Sorghum Insider

January 19, 2018

2018 Planting Decisions—The following information was provided by USCP’s Director of Agronomy, Brent Bean. As growers begin to make planting decisions here are some things to think about when considering planting grain sorghum:

  • Sorghum export prices continue to soar. Most recently, based on Market Perspectives Information Report from January 11, 2018, FOB sorghum export bids reflect a 25.6 percent premium above FOB corn export bids. These high sorghum bids continue to show exports remain strong, and prices are encouraging sorghum to be pulled from the interior countryside. 
  • Much of the historical grain sorghum regions of the U.S. are suffering from drought. Unfortunately, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Centeris predicting hotter and drier conditions for much of this region for the next few months. Although sorghum responds positively to good moisture conditions, it has a well deserved reputation as a drought tolerant crop.
  • Sugarcane aphid was much less of a problem in 2017 than in the past. Although it is impossible to predict at this point what 2018 will bring, there are reasons to be optimistic. The planting of more tolerant hybrids, coupled with better management practices that include timely insecticide application are making a significant difference. In addition, beneficial insect populations that prey on the sugarcane aphid are adapting to the presence of the aphid and appeared in increasing numbers in 2017. There is no reason to think that this will not continue in 2018.
  • Sorghum has long been recognized as a good rotation crop for broadleaf crops such as cotton and soybean.  However, sorghum is often not talked about as a rotational crop with corn. Below is a study conducted by Rick Kochenower, when at the Oklahoma State Experiment Station, near Goodwell.  On average, corn yields were 26 bushels higher when following sorghum compared to continuous corn.

  • Under irrigation, grain sorghum makes a good companion crop with other crops where circles are split in half. Planting dates can be manipulated in a way that provides irrigation water during the key development stages of each crop. This has the effect of maximizing water use efficiency for the cropping system.

Campaign Finance Reports Due as March Primary Draws Nearer—Campaign finance reports detailing the fundraising, expenditure, and outstanding loan totals for all candidates seeking public office in Texas and in the Texas congressional delegation were due on Tuesday January 16. Since 2000, these semi-annual reports, designed to increase campaign transparency by documenting the names, occupations, and amounts given for all contributions of greater than $100, are made public as they are filed. You can review the financials of any candidate here by selecting “By Filer Name,” and entering the last name of the candidate.

Some notable financial information made available this week:

  • The Agriculture Commissioner Republican primary between incumbent Sid Miller and Austin-based ethics lobbyist Trey Blocker has been widely considered to be the most contentious of all statewide elections in 2018, and the financial reporting backs up that assessment. Miller raised $106,000 from July to December, while Blocker (who formally announced his candidacy in November) raised $50,000. Each of these candidates have loaned themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars. Blocker reported having a net amount of $487,000 cash on hand, slightly higher than Miller’s $402,000 cash on hand.
  • Incumbents Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick are in much better positions relative to their challengers than Commissioner Miller. Abbott raised $9,000,000 from July to December, bringing his total cash on hand to $43,300,000, the most cash on hand ever reported by a Texas politician. Patrick brought in $2,700,000 in this period for a total of $18,000,000 cash on hand. None of the Governor or Lieutenant Governor’s challengers – in either party – reported raising more than $250,000 in this six month period.
  • Senator Kel Seliger in Senate District 31 (stretching from parts of Midland/Odessa up to Amarillo) reported revenue of $528,000 for a total of $1,700,000 cash on hand. His main challenger, former Midland Mayor Michael Canon, reported raising $107,000 for a total of $170,000. Senator Seliger’s race is notable as he was the only Republican state senator to not endorse Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick after the two frequently clashed over Seliger’s staunch support for public schools in rural Texas.

If you have any questions about the finances or state of upcoming elections, please reach out to Patrick Wade at Patrick@texassorghum.org.

Export Report—Export sales were very strong again last week with China committing to purchase 6.7 million bushels. This brings total commitments for the year to 180 million bushels or 69 percent of the USDA export target. Shipments were also strong as China and Mexico took delivery of 2.1 million bushels. Prices remain strong with central South Dakota sorghum priced at 111 percent of corn, central Kansas sorghum priced at 116 percent of corn and Gulf sorghum for export priced at $4.98 per bushel or 123 percent of corn.