Texas Sorghum Insider

November 7, 2012

Sorghum Specific South Plains Meetings – Texas Grain Sorghum Producers (TGSP) and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) are teaming up to host sorghum specific meetings for producers in the Southern High Plains this month and next. The first round of meetings will be held on Monday, Nov. 19 at noon in Brownfield, on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 a.m. in Levelland, and at 12:30 p.m. in Muleshoe also on Nov. 20. The meetings will focus on how producers can maximize resources and profits by growing sorghum. Speakers and topics include: Dr. Justin Weinheimer of USCP to discuss sorghum economics and how you can utilize sorghum with new water restrictions; Dr. Calvin Trostle of Texas A&M AgriLife to discuss sorghum agronomics; Florentino Lopez of USCP to discuss sorghum marketing; and Wayne Cleveland of TGSP to discuss sorghum legislative issues. All events will include a meal and all attendees will be entered in a chance to win a Yeti cooler sponsored by TGSP. For more information on locations, please contact Morgan at morgan.newsom@gmail.com. The second round of meetings will be held on Dec. 17 & 18 in Wall, St. Lawrence and Lamesa.

HPWD Releases Unofficial Director Results – The High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD), which services a 16-county area, recently held elections for two positions on the HPWUD Board of Directors. Mike Beauchamp of Friona was elected to Precint Three District Director and Lynn Tate of Amarillo was elected to Precint Four District Director. Beauchamp defeated incumbent Carroll Cook of Friona who has served on the board since August 2003. Beauchamp is an agricultural producer and will serve a four-year term representing Bailey County, a portion of Castro County and Parmer County. Tate defeated incumbent Robert Meyer of Canyon who has served on the board since September 1993. Tate is an agricultural producer and lawyer and will serve a four-year term representing portions of Armstrong, Deaf Smith, Potter and Randall Counties.

Upcoming Elections/Referendums

FSA Urges Farmers/Ranchers to Vote in County Committee Elections – Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia announced that the 2012 FSA county committee elections began on Monday, Nov. 5, with the mailing of ballots to eligible voters. The deadline to return the ballots to local FSA offices is Dec. 3, 2012. If you are an eligible voter and do not receive a ballot in the coming week, you may obtain one at your local USDA Service Center. Newly elected committee members and their alternates will take office Jan. 1, 2013 and will serve three-year terms. To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program. Across the nation, there are about 7,700 farmers and ranchers serving on county committees, and committees consist of three to 11 members that are elected by eligible producers. More information may be found at www.usda.gov/elections or at your local USDA Service Center.

TGPIB Referendum Begins in Two Weeks – The Texas Grain Producer Indemnity Board (TGPIB) will hold a referendum for the establishment of a Texas grain indemnity fund beginning on Nov. 19, 2012 through Dec. 7, 2012. A producer is eligible to vote once if he/she sold grain in the 36 months prior to Dec. 7, 2012. Ballots will be available  at all Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county offices, and ballots must be postmarked by Dec. 7 and mailed to the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) to be counted. The referendum must pass with a two-thirds vote and if it does, the assessments will be put into place on Feb. 1, 2013. Producers who produced grain in Texas will pay their assessment to the “first point of sale” grain buyer whom will remit it to the TGPIB. Grain produced outside of the state will not be assessed by the grain buyer. These producers will not be protected by the TGPIB indemnity fund program. The rules set an assessment range of 0.2 percent to 0.6 percent of the final sale price of the grain. For FAQ’s, to learn about the potential fund and more information on how to vote, please visit www.TexasGrainIndemnity.org.

October 25, 2012

Texas Irrigation Impacts, Ag Comparable to Homeowners – Texas A&M University, along with the Texas Water Resources Institute and many other others, recently put together a study that shows the status and trends of irrigated agriculture in Texas. Texas ranks third in the U.S. for both irrigated agriculture acres and irrigation water applied. Some interesting facts the study found:  over six million acres irrigated are for agricultural production, making up more than 10% of irrigated acres in the U.S.; and one out of four harvested cropland acres in Texas is irrigated. The study also found that in 2000, 86% of the irrigated acres used groundwater (Texas High Plains), 11.6% used surface water (Rio Grande Basin and the upper portions of the Gulf Coast) and the remaining acres used both. It is estimated that in 2009 Texas used an average water use of 16.2 million acre-feet annually, and of that about 57% is used for agriculture irrigation. Texas has averaged less than 18 inches on a per acre basis annually since the 1950’s. With that, the study found that agricultural irrigation is comparable to homeowners application of water. A three-year study in College Station found average households supplemented rainfall by applying 22 inches of water annually to their lawns. The study details the need for water usage currently and what different regions in Texas will need in 2060, with the DFW metroplex and Houston regions showing the greatest increase for water in that time span. DFW and the Houston areas will need more water for municipal use and Houston will need an increase in water for  manufacturing as well. To view the full study, please visit www.twri.tamu.edu.

Water Efficiency Workshops to be Held in Rio Grande Valley – Workshops on low-cost, high efficiency irrigation techniques designed specifically for producers and irrigation district personnel will be held at the Rio Grande Center for Ag Water Efficiency near Harlingen, Tex. on Nov. 7-9. The two workshops are offered by the Texas Project for Ag Water Efficiency (Texas AWE). The topics will feature “District Technology Enhancements” on Nov. 7-8, and “On-Farm Irrigation Advances” which is geared toward ag producers and will cover low- or no-cost irrigation techniques and technologies to improve yields and boost net farm income will be held on Nov. 9. A small registration fee will cover the costs of lunch and materials. To register, visit www.TexasAWE.org.

New Plant in Missouri to Use Sorghum – The Rolla Daily News announced a new 5,400-square-foot manufacturing plant will be in production in the first quarter of 2013 to produce fiberboard products made from sorghum. The plant will be in Nodaway County in Missouri. The company notes that using sorghum will be making health-friendly building materials by lowering the carbon footprint, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, deforestation and health risks associated with traditional building materials. The plant will manufacture a product trade-named DurahForm, which consists of processed sorghum stalks fused together using a protein binder.  The product is produced in sheets and is similar to high-grade plywood.


TGSB 2013 RFP’S – TGSB’s deadline for submitting project proposals is Monday, October 29, 2012 for the 2013 project year. The proposal should be three pages or less and the desired funding amount should not exceed $10,000. The projects should focus on applied (on farm) research and the domestic and international marketing of sorghum. For a detailed outbreak of guidelines and deadlines, please visit www.texassorghum.org/2013-rfp. Please submit all proposals to morgan.newsom@gmail.com.

TGSA BOD Nominations – TGSA recently changed their election process for their board of director’s. TGSA is divided into three districts across Texas:  North, Central and South. Each district will now have three board seats (two producer’s and one at-large) for a total of nine TGSA director’s across the state. The nomination forms for all seats must be postmarked by Monday, Oct. 29, 2012 and mailed to TGSA, P.O. Box 905, Salado, TX 76571. To be nominated for a producer seat, you must be a dues-paying member of TGSA (either through individual membership or if you sell your grain to an E-member elevator) and you must be a sorghum grower. The at-large seats will be from FY2012 TGSA Corporate Members and Texas E-member elevators, and may be growers, owners, managers, etc. Once nomination forms are received, the election will be a mail ballot and posted on TGSA’s website soon after. For more information about the election process and/or to receive a nomination form, please contact Morgan at morgan.newsom@gmail.com or (806) 438-5994.

October 9, 2012

TGSB 2013 RFP’s – Texas Grain Sorghum Board (TGSB) is now accepting proposals for the 2013-project year for applied (on farm) research and for the domestic and international marketing of sorghum. Proposals are due Oct 29, 2012 and upon approval by the board at their December 2012 meeting, will begin on January 1, 2013. The proposal should three pages or less and the desired funding amount should not exceed $10,000. The board is looking for research that improves that profitability of sorghum; marketing that addresses the development of new markets; studies that involve movement of grain into markets; research that develops new uses of grain sorghum; and/or promotion that introduces sorghum to new sources. For a detailed outbreak of guidelines and deadlines, please view TGSB’s website here.

Schnell to Serve as State Sorghum and Corn Specialist – Texas A&M AgriLife has hired Dr. Ronnie Schnell to serve as state cropping systems specialist for sorghum and corn. Schnell will serve a joint appointment with AgriLife Extension and Texas A&M AgriLife Research. His goal will be to develop and provide information to the Texas agriculture community on profitable and water-efficient production systems, which include sorghum, corn and bioenergy crops as reported by Texas AgriLife. Schnell is a native of Central Texas, earned his bachelor’s degree in horticulture and crop science from Sam Houston State University in 2002, his master’s in agronomy in 2007 and a doctorate in agronomy in 2010 – both from Texas A&M University. Prior to this appointment, he worked at the University of Florida-West Florida Research and Education Center. Texas Grain Sorghum Producer’s staff recently met with Dr. Schnell and is already working on ways to improve the accessibility of sorghum information to grower’s across the state. We congratulate Dr. Schnell on this new position and we look forward to working with him in the future.

SURE Sign-Up for 2011 Crop Losses – Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan Garcia announced the sign-up period for the 2011 crop year Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program will open Oct. 22nd. SURE authorizes assistance to farmers and ranchers who suffered crop losses caused by natural disasters occurring through Sept. 30, 2011. For more information on the 2011 SURE program, visit your local FSA office or visit www.fsa.usda.gov/sure.

Past TGSP Director Laid to Rest – Howard Salge of Tynan, Texas passed away on Oct. 4th. He was a Board of Director for the Texas Grain Sorghum Board and Association in the 1980’s. Howard’s son, Darby, continues to farm in the Tynan area. TGSP’s condolences go out to his family and we were grateful for his leadership in the sorghum industry.

September 26, 2012

South Texas Commodity Symposium – Don’t forget to join us on Thursday, Oct. 4th in Robstown! Texas Grain Sorghum Producers, Corn Producers Association of Texas, South Texas Cotton and Grain Association and Southwest Council of Agribusiness will once again team up to bring a commodity symposium to South Texas growers. For the first time, the event will be held in conjunction with the Texas AgXchange Farm & Ranch Show at the RMB Regional Fairgrounds in Robstown, Tex. The symposium will begin at 10 a.m. in the Arena, next to the indoor exhibits. Speakers include Tom Sell of Combest, Sell and Assoc. providing a Farm Bill update, Brian McCuistion will give details on the upcoming Texas Grain Producers Indemnity Fund referendum, and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples will address border control and immigration issues. The event will conclude at noon with attendees receiving free tickets to the AgXchange BBQ luncheon. Hope to see you there!

Secretary Vilsack Announces USCP Board Appointments – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced four appointments to the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) Board of Directors. The four sorghum producers appointed are Bill Kubecka of Palacious, Texas; Gregory Shelor of Minneloa, Kansas; William Greving of Prairie View, Kansas; and David Fremark of St. Lawrence, South Dakota for the at-large position. The appointees were selected from nominations by certified producer organizations. USCP holds a 13-member board.

USCP Committee Positions Available – Last year the USCP Board of Directors developed new working committees to further develop the sorghum industry and the working capabilities of the Sorghum Checkoff. This change enables outside participants, whether that be growers, researchers, industry leaders, etc. to apply to be on these committees in order to provide insight, knowledge and different views. The three committees are Crop Improvement, Renewables and High Value Markets. If you are interested in sharing your leadership with the sorghum industry, please contact morgan@texassorghum.org to receive an application form. The deadline for application submission is October 8, 2012. The board will review and accept committee applications at their December board meeting.

Sorghum Syrup Making Its Way Into Mainstream Restaurants – A chef at a restaurant in Charleston, S.C. says that sorghum is on the rise. An NRP reporter provided an entire story about sorghum coming into restaurants and that she never heard of sorghum until she began to see it about a year ago on menus in Washington, D.C. She found sorghum in chili glaze on duck, sorghum syrup in cocktails, on desserts, and also found the sorghum seed incorporated into a salad. Mika Lata, the chef from South Carolina, makes sorghum butter to spread on biscuits by using sorghum syrup and unsalted butter. Kentucky and Tennesee are the top producers of sorghum syrup and the National Sweet Sorghum Producers & Processors Association noted that sorghum syrup can be substituted for any recipe that calls for molasses, honey, corn syrup or maple syrup. The syrup is made from the juice extracted from sorghum cane, and then it is filtered and cooked down in open pans while it becomes thicker and darker after a few hours of simmering and skimming in an evaporating pan.

September 12, 2012

TGPIB Referendum Near – The Texas Grain Producer Indemnity Board (TGPIB) will hold a referendum for the establishment of a Texas grain indemnity fund in the coming months. The TGPIB was set-up as part of legislation that was passed in 2011 after many grain buyer financial failures occurred across the state. The TGPIB will mitigate up to 90 percent of the financial losses suffered by producers of corn, sorghum, wheat and soybeans when a grain buyer experiences a financial failure. The fund will be voted on by Texas grain producers between Nov. 19, 2012 through Dec. 7, 2012. A producer is eligible to vote once if he/she sold grain in the 36 months prior to Dec. 7, 2012. Ballots will be available at all Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county offices, and must be postmarked by Dec. 7 and mailed to the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) to be counted. The referendum must pass with a  two-thirds vote and if it does, the assessments will be put into place on Feb. 1, 2013. If producers vote to start the fund, the “first point of sale” grain buyer will collect the assessment when producers sell their grain, and then they will remit to the TGPIB. The rules adopted by the TGPIB set an assessment range of 0.2 percent to 0.6 percent of the final sale price of the grain. The TGPIB will set a minimum fund balance necessary to cover all anticipated administrative and operating costs, and a reasonable estimate of the indemnity claim payments. Once the fund reaches an amount determined by the TGPIB as sufficient to cover the risk, a refund process will be initiated to refund assessments on a first in, first out basis. The fund will be managed by TGPIB and the money can only be used for the indemnity fund program. To learn more about the fund, please visit www.TexasGrainIndemnity.org.

Sorghum Leadership Class I Begins – Last week, fifteen sorghum farmers from across eight states, started the beginning session of their Sorghum Leadership experience. The purpose of the first session was to educate the class on sorghum research and the seed industry. The class toured the Texas High Plains visiting Chromatin in Idalou, USDA-ARS in Lubbock, Pioneer in Plainview, Richardson Seeds in Vega and viewed a presentation from Advanta. The purpose of the program is to develop the next generation of leaders in the sorghum industry. The next stop for their class will be held in Kansas in November to learn about domestic markets and public research. The Sorghum Checkoff (USCP) is sponsoring the program because it feels future leadership in sorghum is a vital part to the industry. Paul Morris of Hubbard, Tex. and Joey Rieder of Sinton, Tex. are the two participants from Texas in the program. To view the class and learn more about it, visit www.sorghumcheckoff.com/leadership-sorghum.

USGS Conducting Global Sorghum Assessment – The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) will be conducting a comprehensive global sorghum assessment over the course of the remaining calendar year. The assessment will cover issues including a competitor analysis to derive the best way to market U.S. sorghum’s competitive advantage and new opportunities for U.S. sorghum market expansion. This assessment will allow the USGC to better understand current markets and engage markets that haven’t traditionally used sorghum. This assessment should help the Council to use producer funds more efficiently in the international marketplace. TGSB and USCP currently fund the Council to enhance the sorghum industry through international markets.

Watch Videos on Sorghum – The Sorghum Checkoff (USCP) has brought sorghum videos to your desktops, laptops, smartphones and iPads! The program has put together various videos related to sorghum and has posted them on their website and YouTube. You can view videos ranging from the information about the checkoff to watching sorghum harvest and even hear from past yield contest winners. To view the videos go to www.sorghumcheckoff.com/newsroom/videos-2 or simply search “sorghum checkoff” on YouTube.

Sign-Up for NSP’s Yield & Management Contest – Don’t forget to enroll in the yearly National Sorghum Producers (NSP) Yield & Management Contest to compete with other farmers and against your county averages for the best sorghum yields in the nation. It’s not too late, so visit www.sorghumgrowers.com for an entry form, instructions, deadlines and rules. This year’s winners will receive a trip to the 2013 Commodity Classic held in Kissimmee, Florida!

August 29, 2012

Check Out Our Websites! – TGSP offers two new websites for you to find information. Texas Grain Sorghum Association (TGSA) which concentrates on state legislative issues can be found at www.texasgsa.com and Texas Grain Sorghum Board (TGSB) which enhances the sorghum through research, marketing and education can be found at www.texassorghum.org. The websites offers various information including:  a list of our districts and the board of directors, commodity futures, USGC’s market perspective reports, Texas AgriLife Extension’s sorghum tips, archives of our newsletters, photos, upcoming events and more, and will soon have information on grain storage, sorghum 101, and reports on the marketing and research projects TGSB funds each year. If you would like to see something on our site, please let us know!

How Much Do You Spend on Food and How Secure is Your Food Supply? – A project sponsored by DuPont and collaborated by The Economist Magazine answers those questions and a whole lot more.  The link http://foodsecurityindex.eiu.com/ is a fascinating, user-friendly read, offering insight into how fortunate, and unfortunate consumers are in relation to where they live.  Twenty-five various indicators such as farm policy and political stability were utilized to form the interactive document.  The US (89.5 overall score) ranks number 1 out of 105 countries that were analyzed grading a 93.2 score in affordability, 87.3 in availability and 86.6 in quality and safety.  Compare in sharp contrast to the Congo who scored a 13, 24.2 and 15.9 respectively and you realize the value of policy and tech savvy producers in a manner that will make you very grateful.  Likewise, we Americans only spend 13 percent of income on food while the Congo spends 70 percent of their income on food.  Be sure and take a look at China (62.5 overall score) and India (45 overall score) on the map, they are, notably, the great big circles in the middle of the graph.

DuPont Pioneer Sorghum Breeding – Cleve Franks, a sorghum breeder at the Pioneer facility in Plainview, Tex, updated Texas Grain Sorghum Board of Director’s on Pioneer’s sorghum breeding program at our August board meeting. Pioneer’s sorghum breeding program has three locations and are located in Plainview, Tex., Taft, Tex. and Manhattan, Kan. Their programs have 20,000-30,000 plots in their home nurseries and 8,000-10,000 plots in their winter nurseries. Their sorghum breeders’ implement trials at their home locations and also at 10-12 off-site locations, and in their spare time (ha) implement 20,000-30,000 yield trial plots each year. The goal of the breeding program is to stack favorable genes in new ways, where yield is always a consideration. It takes a typical program 9-10 years to get from a single male and female breeding line to sell commercially to producers. The trials of the hybrids usually account for six of those years. To go commercial, a hybrid must be superior to those that are currently released. Pioneer invests large amounts of dollars to sorghum research and are able to implement such technologies at the BOREAS mobile wind machine. Pioneer is also preparing for over-the-top grass control technologies and hopes to have their resistant sorghum varieties to the ALS herbicide released in 2015.

Cleve Franks, a Pioneer sorghum breeder, discusses their breeding program to TGSP's BOD.

Sorghum Head Worm –  Dr. Ed Bynum of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Amarillo recently released an update on sorghum head worms in the Panhandle region. He noted that the larvae of both fall army worm and corn earworms/cotton bollworms make up the caterpillars known as sorghum head worms. The sorghum head is most susceptible to damage during flowering to soft dough growth stages and infestation is usually worse in late-planted fields versus early planted ones. He also noted that loose, open type heads usually have a lower number of head worms than tight sorghum heads. Dr. Bynum suggests sampling your fields each week during the grain developing stages. Texas AgriLife has released a threshold calculator at http://bailey.agrilife.org to determine the economic effects and whether or not growers should consider using chemicals on these pests. For sampling techniques, please contact your county extension agent.

High Plains Farm-Forward Study – Dr. Darren Hudson, a professor and researcher in Agricultural Economics at Texas Tech University, visited with Texas Grain Sorghum Producer’s Board of Director’s last week and provided the results from the Farm-Forward economic study he did that shows the impacts of changes at the farm level on agribusiness supply chains and communities in the High Plains region since irrigated crops pump 90% of the water. Texas AgriLife Extension Service were also key researchers in the study. The study estimates the forward-linked (output of each forward-linked sector associated with the purchase of locally produced commodities) regional impacts for agricultural products and found that the total impacts of crop production outputs were $12,235 million, with a value added total of $4,662 million and agriculture employs 103,297 jobs in that region. The study also broke out each field crop in the region and also showed livestock effects. Sorghum production accounted for a total impact of $725 million outputs, had a value-added impact of $291 million and employed 5,988 jobs. Sorghum silage contributed to a total of $100 million outputs, had a value-added impact of $37 million and contributed for 621 jobs. The study is available to help with alternative water policy analyses within the region.

August 15, 2012

Jeff Stapper Awarded Sorghum Extension Agent of the Year – Jeff Stapper, County Extension Agent in Nueces County, was presented with Texas AgriLife’s Sorghum Extension Agent of the Year award at the Extension Agent’s annual meeting held at the end of July. Mr. Stapper’s regional director, Monty Dozier, noted that Jeff uses a variety of methods to reach producers related to grain sorghum production. He has extensive on-farm trials that he implements each year. In 2011, Jeff’s trials included studies related to grain sorghum varieties, sorghum fertility management, sorghum planting methods, and sorghum herbicide tolerance. Jeff is always providing information to his producers through face-to-face interaction, at meetings, in print and electronic media and on television. Last year he held a grain production workshop and implemented various other workshops on crops grown throughout the county. Mr. Stapper played an important role during the Sorghum Checkoff referendum in relaying information to producers. As a token of our appreciation, Texas Grain Sorghum Producers will be sending Jeff to the annual Commodity Classic in the spring of 2013 where he can network with industry leaders and growers across the nation and learn about the newest innovations in with grains. TGSP congratulates Mr. Stapper on this outstanding achievement and we look forward to continue to work with him in the future!

Jeff Stapper (center) awarded Texas AgriLife's Extension Agent of the Year

Monte Alto Variety Tests Results  – Texas AgriLife recently released their results from their fully irrigated and limited irrigated grain sorghum performance tests in Monte Alto at their variety plots at Rio Farms Inc. The fully irrigated test plot averaged 8,096 lbs/acre. There were 38 hybrids in the trial, and 19 of the hybrids produced over 8,000 lbs/acre. The highest yielding hybrid was Pioneer 84P80 at 9,537 lbs/acre with a test weight of 59.6, and the second highest yielding hybrid was Monsanto Company’s DeKalb DKS51-01 at 9,467 lbs/acre. The limited irrigated test plot averaged 8,021 pounds/acre with an average test weight of 58.1. There were 42 varieties in this plot, and 19 produced over 8,000 lbs/acre. The highest yielding hybrid in the limited irrigated plot was also Pioneer’s 84P80 at 9,275 and second was also Monsanto Company’s DeKalb DKS51-01 at 9,190. To see all the results from this performance test, please visit http://varietytesting.tamu.edu/grainsorghum.

DuPont Pioneer to Celebrate 50 Years in Plainview – The DuPont Pioneer company will celebrate its 50th anniversary of its Plainview production facility on August 30. Sorghum is the primary crop that is produced at this facility and as marked on Pioneer’s website it was a milestone for the company – in 1962 “Pioneer sorghum operation begins in Plainview, Texas.” This year the facility is growing its largest sorghum seed crop it has ever seen. After harvest wraps up, they will then prepare the sorghum seed and ship it all over the world.

3rd Annual South Texas Commodity Symposium – Texas Grain Sorghum Producers, Corn Producers Association of Texas, South Texas Cotton and Grain and Southwest Council of Agribusiness will once again team up to bring a commodity symposium to South Texas growers. For the first time, the event will be held in conjunction with the Robstown AgXchange Farm & Ranch Show at the RMB Regional Fairgrounds in Robstown, Tex. Mark your calendars for Thursday, October 4th and plan to join us at 10 a.m. to discuss the Farm Bill, the Texas Grain Indemnity Fund and hear from Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples on border control and immigration issues. The event will conclude with tickets to eat lunch at the AgXchange BBQ cookoff. More information will be coming soon on the symposium, but in the meantime visit www.texasagxchange.com to view what the new Texas AgXchange will be bringing to Robstown to growers in South Texas!

July 24, 2012

Texas A&M Agencies Plan Formal Name Changes – Seven state agencies of the Texas A&M system will be officially renamed at the Board of Regents meeting set for Aug. 2, 2012. Texas A&M has the goal of maintaing a stronger agency brand for the future to maximize the benefits of the shared equity in the Texas A&M name. A new logo will be created for the agencies, but there will be no changes in lines of authority or reporting relationships. Three of the seven examples of the name changes include:  Texas AgriLife Extension Service will be Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service; Texas Transportation Institute will be Texas A&M Transportation Institute; and Texas Forest Service will be Texas A&M Forest Service.

USDA to Assist Farmers & Ranchers Suffering in Drought – Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced recently USDA’s new flexibility and assistance plan in their major conservation programs to offer much needed help to producers as the most wide-spread drought in seven decades intensifies in the U.S. So far, USDA has designated 1,297 counties across 29 states as disaster areas. He noted that many farm families will be struggling to make ends meat at the end of the crop year. The four programs within USDA that Secretary Vilsack’s is using his discretionary authority over are as follows: the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) – by allowing additional acres under CRP for haying and grazing under emergency conditions; the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) – by allowing producers to modify current EQIP contracts to allow for prescribed grazing, livestock watering facilities, water conservation and other conservation activities to address drought conditions;  the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) – by authorizing haying and grazing of WRP easement areas in drought-affected areas where such haying and grazing is consistent with conservation of wildlife habitat and wetlands; and the Federal Crop Insurance Program – by encouraging crop insurance companies to help producers who may have cash flow problems to voluntarily forego charging interest on unpaid crop insurance premiums for an extra 30 days, to November 1, 2012, for spring crops. Policy holders who are unable to pay their premiums in a timely manner accrue an interest penalty of 1.25 percent per month until payment is made. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/drought.

Texas Sorghum Prices Staying Strong – As the drought lingers across the Midwest and dampers the corn crop, the futures prices continue to climb. At the end of last week across the state for delivery to elevators, the Rio Grande Valley was said to be averaging a cash price of $6.51/bu for sorghum, the Texas Upper Coast compared at an average of $6.46 while the Coastal Bend averaged $6.78. Central Texas compared to the southern region offering an average of $6.72 for sorghum. Currently, the Northern and Southern High Plains are almost a dollar higher than the other parts of the state, but they are the only ones not finished with or in harvest. Their prices averaged in range from $7.67 to $7.76. Export prices ended last week relative to the region – with the New Orleans port offering the highest price at $8.19.

July 10, 2012

Sorghum Checkoff Looking for Leadership – The United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) is launching a new program to look for the next generation of leaders in the sorghum industry. The program is looking for interested applicants who are actively engaged in growing sorghum. Those who get accepted into the program will have both hands-on and a classroom style education. The class will be exposed to various aspects of the sorghum industry from basic research to international marketing, and participants will gain an understanding of how sorghum moves through the value chain, how checkoffs and interest organizations interact on behalf of the industry and what the future holds for the crop. The program will also provide professional development training and networking opportunities. Applications for the Class I of Leadership Sorghum are due by July 20, 2012. For electronic forms and class schedules, please visit www.SorghumCheckoff.com/leadership or email leadership@sorghumcheckoff.com. We hope that you will get involved!

West Texas Ethanol Plant – Earlier this year the former Levelland/Hockley County Ethanol Plant went bankrupt and a local market for sorghum left with it, but Conestoga Energy has recently bought the plant and this is good news for area farmers. The new plant is called Diamond Ethanol, LLC and they plan to be up and running in time for sorghum harvest in west Texas this fall. The company hopes to be doing some testing of the plant by mid-September and plans to be taking sorghum by October 1, 2012. The ethanol plant plays a large role in boosting the local economy and gives area growers a local market for their sorghum crop. The plant will be working very closely with the local cooperatives to purchase the sorghum for their operation.

Crop Report – Texas AgriLife recently reported on crops across the state. The Southern High Plains has seen more sorghum go in the ground as the heat index soared and some cotton got hailed out. Many cotton fields that got hailed out were replanted with sorghum. The irrigated fields look fair but need rainfall to supplement the irrigation. Sorghum in the Panhandle is fair to good. Rains have began to flicker around both regions but is always needed as irrigation is still in full swing and the dry land crops are aching for it. Sorghum in Central Texas is still holding on and looking good. Temperatures have been high and rain has recently been limited. The Coastal Bend ranged from three inches of rain to a trace last week. Sorghum is being harvested in most of the CB, but some areas of sorghum are still getting zeroed out due to the lack of soil moisture. Some of the failed sorghum crops are being harvested for hay while other parts of the region are showing descent yields. The Northern region of Texas showed that grain sorghum yields are expected to be excellent. The Valley is nearing the end of sorghum harvest as rains from last week slowed progress just a bit.

June 28, 2012

Ken Davis' sorghum crop in Grandview shows potential for high-yielding sorghum in Central Texas this year.

Sorghum Seed Industry Gets Newly Converted Lines – The United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) is currently funding the re-instated Sorghum Conversion Project in conjunction with MMR Genetics (NuSeeds America) and USDA-ARS to make more of the world’s sorghum available to breeders through newly converted germplasm. The researchers selected 44 sources of germplasm grown around the world that could not be grown in North America and converted these plants into desirable traits that can be grown in the U.S. The 44 germplasms were released this May to seed companies around the nation so that they could begin their trek to provide these possibilities to producers by bringing new traits, new uses and new markets. The new material is currently available to public and private use institutions for the development of new hybrid lines. The next release, which is scheduled for May 2013, will feature 50 newly converted lines.

NSP Revamping Yield & Management Contest – National Sorghum Producers (NSP) have agreed to add two new divisions to their National sorghum yield and management contest. The two new categories that will be added to the competition will be double crop irrigated and double crop non-irrigated. This will allow producers who plant sorghum behind a previously harvested crop in the same crop year to compete on a more level playing field among their peers. Other categories include:  conventional-till irrigated and non-irrigated, no-till non-irrigated, mulch-till non-irrigated and reduced-till irrigated.Entry forms must be postmarked at least 30 days before harvest for “Regular Entry” of $65 or at least 10 days before harvest for “Express Entry” of $95. You must be a member of NSP to participate. Dues are $60 for a 1-year membership or $150 for a 3-year membership. For an entry form to the contest, please contact Morgan Newsom at morgan@texassorghum.org.

Onyx Black Sorghum – Dr. Bill Rooney of Texas A&M University has developed Onyx, a type of black sorghum that is a game changer in the sorghum food market. The new finding shows that the outer layer of the grain sorghum, also known as bran, is a black color which has a high concentration of anthocyanins which are antioxidants. Dr. Rooney noted to Sealy news that this line “would be suitable for the food market, you could grind this and turn it into flour for food use.”  The yield potential of this line is approximately 65-70 percent of a commercial grain hybrid. Dr. Rooney also noted the line was developed for a niche market-production and will not be widely grown or distributed. The line is currently in the licensing phase, so we expect to see it in the near future.

Japanese Trade Team Visits Texas – Last week, the U.S. Grains Council, the United Sorghum Checkoff Program and Texas Grain Sorghum Producers hosted a team of five potential sorghum buyers from Japan while they toured Texas to learn about sorghum’s potential as a feed grain and the role it plays in human consumption. The group first toured Attebury Grain’s facility in Saginaw and then made a stop at Ken Davis’ operation to view sorghum fields near Grandview. The group then went on to Texas A&M University where they heard presentations on research being done with sorghum for food as well as toured the Universities research plots. Japan is the nation’s second largest importer of sorghum and our organizations continue to build on that relationship to sell them more grain.

Japanese Team Tours Attebury Facility in Saginaw.

Ken Davis' talks about production with the Japanese team at his sorghum field.


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