Texas Sorghum Insider

August 5, 2015

Herbicide-Tolerant Sorghum Trait – DuPont Crop Protection and Advanta US have signed a joint agreement to commercialize the DuPont Inzen Z herbicide-tolerance sorghum trait. The non-GMO trait will give growers a greater ability to control yield limiting grass weeds in grain sorghum. DuPont has noted that annual grass weeds reduce U.S. sorghum yields by approximately 20 percent. The new trait will help control key grass weeds such as foxtail, barnyard grass, crabgrass and Texas panic. The Z stands for DuPont Zest, a herbicide formulation to be used with the hybrids. Zest is currently still under development and is not yet registered with the EPA. DuPont Crop Protection and Advanta US are working closely with regulatory agencies and local seed and crop protection teams to develop a product stewardship and best management practices before brining Inzen Z to market. Many farmers in the High Plains are looking into rotating with more sorghum as they battle the unforgiving Roundup resistant careless weeds (also known as pigweeds or Palmer’s amaranth) in their cotton fields.

2015 TGSB Board Elections Underway – Ballots are now available for the biennial election for TGSB’s board of directors and eligible voters may obtain a ballot at their local county agricultural extension office, or grain elevator, or by contacting TGSB staff at (806) 543-5514 or katelyn@texassorghum.org. The election is held by mail ballot and completed ballots must be postmarked by August 27, 2015 and mailed to Texas Grain Sorghum Board, 4201 N. I-27, Lubbock, TX 79403. The current terms of five (5) of the fifteen (15) board members will expire this year including two in the TGSB North District, one in the TGSB Central District, and two in the TGSB South District. Eligible voters – any person living within the TGSB districts who is engaged in the business of producing, or causing to be produced, sorghum for commercial purposes, including their tenants and sharecroppers, if such person is subject to paying the assessment that is collected on sorghum in Texas – may take part in the election.

NSP Yield Contest – It’s not too late! If you’re feeling like your sorghum crop could be high yielding, then don’t forget to enter the National Sorghum Producer’s (NSP) Yield Contest. Entry forms must be filled out and postmarked at least 10 days before harvest of the contest field and completed forms must be in the NSP office no later than Dec. 1, 2015. Contest winners are recognized each year at an awards banquet in conjunction with Commodity Classic, to be held in the fall in New Orleans, Louisiana. There are seven divisions including:  conventional-till irrigated, conventional-till non-irrigated, no-till non-irrigated, mulch-till non-irrigated, reduced-till irrigated, double crop irrigated, and double crop non-irrigated. And if you’re thinking you could reach 250 bushels per acre, then you should definitely #gofor250. If you reach 250 bushels per acre or greater then  you qualify for three prizes. First place gets a 3-year pickup least of a Dodge, Chevrolet, Ford or Toyota ($25,000 value), second place gets an all terrain vehicle ($10,000 value), and third place gets a riding mower ($5,000 value). More contest rules and entry forms may be found by clicking here.

July 23, 2015

Robert Bowling, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Corpus Christi Provides Sorghum Update – Sorghum harvest is underway in the Coastal Bend region. Sorghum producers able to beat the rain or plant around rain events are the first to harvest. Early dryland yield reports have ranged from 3,000 to over 7,000 pounds per acre. This wide range of yields is the result of water standing in some fields for extended periods of time while fields that drained are yielding quite well. Portions of some fields that stood in water vary in plant developmental stages. It is not uncommon to see portions of sorghum fields that have reached physiological maturity while other portions of the same field where water stood for extended periods of time are in dough stage. Differential development of sorghum in these fields have made interesting management of insect pests and will certainly challenge harvest. Rain delayed planting for some sorghum producers forcing them to plant outside the typical window for seeding this crop. Over 30 percent of the 2015 crop was seeded late in the Costal Bend region. Most of these fields are in dough stage while others are starting to color. Typically, these late planted fields would be subject to heavy sorghum midge issues but reports of this sorghum pest have been scattered and overall, midge infestations have been light in late-seeded sorghum. Rice stink bugs have been more of an issue to sorghum producers in the south with well over half of the acres treated for this pest. Sorghum headworms have also presented challenges to many sorghum producers and the combination of both pests within fields have presented challenges in identifying the right combination of insecticides for their control.
What about sugarcane aphid? Sugarcane aphid populations were slow to progress in the Coastal Bend region this year. Most sorghum producers in our region were able to manage this pest with edge and spot treatments with fewer than 20 percent of the acres treated for this aphid. Sugarcane aphid populations have increased over the past couple of weeks necessitating insecticide applications in some late-seeded fields or as tank mixes with harvest aids. A few farmers have tried to outpace the aphid with their harvest aid application only to have issues with sticky grain at harvest. Sorghum producers with late-seeded fields need to scout these fields carefully one to two times per week and treat with an insecticide (such as Transform or Sivanto) if aphid populations exceed the economic threshold of 50 to 125 aphids per leaf. Sorghum nearing harvest also will require monitoring for sugarcane aphid. If sub-threshold population are present and natural enemies of the aphid (such as ladybugs, syrphids, parasites, and lacewings) then a harvest aid may not be necessary. However, if aphids are at or close to thresholds  with aphids present on the upper green leaves then an insecticide would be suggested to reduce or control aphids. Malathion mixed with glyphosate is an option that is attractive because both have the same pre-harvest interval (seven days). However, malathion will likely offer suppression, at best, of sugarcane aphid. Sorghum producers may want to consider a Transform tank mix with glyphosate for heavier aphid populations or if they want to control the aphid prior to harvest. Keep in mind that the preharvest interval for Transform is 14 days so this will delay harvest by 7 days when tank mixed with glyphosate. Some farmers may consider applying Transform prior to applying a harvest aid but this increases the number of trips across the field adding to production costs. If you have questions about managing the sugarcane aphid or any other insect pest please contact your local county agent. Always read and follow label directions before applying any pesticide.

CRP Changes take effect September 1 – USDA released changes for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) required in the 2014 Farm Bill. The overall acreage is capped at 24 million acres, and there is no longer a penalty for emergency haying or grazing with a provision for incidental grazing. Haying and grazing will not be allowed more than once every two years otherwise landowners will experience a 25 percent payment decline. The 2014 Farm Bill also included a grasslands provision allowing up to two million acres of grassland to be added under the CRP cap. The enrollment for grassland conservation begins Sept. 1, 2015, and the first ranking period will be Nov. 20. CRP signup is scheduled for Dec. 1, 2015, until Feb. 26, 2016, as previously announced by USDA. There will be a 60-day comment period.

El Nino Predictions - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting there is a greater than 90% chance that El Nino conditions will continue through this winter, and around an 80% chance it will continue into the early spring of 2016. El Nino is a disruption of the ocean-atmosphere in the Tropical Pacific. In Texas this means that it could bring us more upper-level low pressure systems which means more stormy weather, increased rain chances, cooler temps due to more cloud cover, and even the possibility that the Atlantic hurricane season would be less active due to an increase in mid to upper-level wind shear in the Caribbean and Atlantic as reported by Texas Storm Chasers. NOAA’s probability maps for Oct – Dec 2015 (shown below) show above average precipitation chances and below average temperatures for the state.rainfall outlook-1temperature outlook-2

Sorghum Recipe Contest – The Sorghum Checkoff is hosting a Sorghum Recipe Showdown this year. They are asking people across the country to create and submit their best sorghum recipes for a chance to win cool prizes, including $500. The contest seeks recipes that appeal to the home cook while demonstrating the benefits and versatility of cooking with sorghum. For full contest details click here.



July 2, 2015

Sugarcane Aphid in Lubbock Co. – On Monday, June 29, a small colony of sugarcane aphids was confirmed in one field in Lubbock Co., which is almost two months earlier than in 2014. Special tips from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension for producers in this area has been uploaded to the Texas Sorghum website and can be reviewed by clicking here. Although at this point, the pest has only been confirmed in one location in Lubbock Co., we will await further reports from the High Plains in the next week, but growers in this area should begin scouting for this pest now.

USDA Expands Sorghum Acres to 8.84 Million – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released its June acreage report this week, increasing its estimated planted grain sorghum acres to 8.84 million, up 11 percent from its March report and 24 percent over the previous year. The two largest grain sorghum-producing states, Kansas and Texas, planted 3.3 million and 3.1 million acres with an increase of 16 and 24 percent, respectively, over the last year.

State Technical Advisory Committee Appointments – Recently, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced the appointment of 129 private-sector members to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee and six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees. Among those selected were two board members for Texas Grain Sorghum Producers. TGSA President, Dale Murden of Harlingen, Texas was selected to serve on the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Fruits and Vegetables; and TGSA Board Member, Dale Artho of Wildorado, Texas, will serve on the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee. To see all appointments, click here.

NSP’s 250 Bushel Yield Contest – The National Sorghum Producer’s Yield Contest provides sorghum farmers with the opportunity to showcase their sorghum crop and has again set a new yield goal of 250 bushels per acre to illustrate sorghum’s yield potential. NSP is offering incentives with support from the Sorghum Checkoff to award growers who reach this new benchmark. Contestants successfully participating in this category will receive:  1st Place – Three-year truck lease (Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, or Toyota); 2nd Place – All-terrain vehicle; 3rd Place – Riding lawn mower. For more information visit NSP’s website here or check out this video here.

Department of Energy Invests in Future of Sorghum – The U.S. Department of Energy has recently announced it will be investing $30 million in sorghum research through the Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA) program, one of two new programs providing a more secure and sustainable energy future. This is one of the largest investments the sorghum industry has seen to date and will have a significant impact on the future of sorghum. The TERRA program seeks to develop technologies that can increase the precision, accuracy and throughput of energy crops breeding. Doing so will enable more detailed measurements of phenotyping, plant physiology and more sophisticated bioinformatics for gene discovery and trait association.  A total of six projects were funded through the DOE at universities and research institutions across the nation.

Sorghum Recipe Contest – The Sorghum Checkoff is hosting a Sorghum Recipe Showdown this year. They are asking people across the country to create and submit their best sorghum recipes for a chance to win cool prizes, including $500. The contest seeks recipes that appeal to the home cook while demonstrating the benefits and versatility of cooking with sorghum. For full contest details click here.

June 17, 2015

Sorghum Growers, Josh Birdwell of Malone and Spence Pennington of Raymondville, gave presented crop information at the Export Sorghum event to the 25 International participants in attendance.

Sorghum Growers, Josh Birdwell of Malone and Spence Pennington of Raymondville, gave presented crop information at the Export Sorghum event to the 25 international participants in attendance.

Export Sorghum Recap – The Sorghum Checkoff and Texas Grain Sorghum Producers hosted 25 international grain buyers from China, Mexico and Japan in Houston last week for the second biannual Export Sorghum conference. Also supporting the event were domestic grain merchandisers, farmers, traders, researchers, nutritionists, U.S. Grains Council representatives and other industry professionals. The three-day event provided information on topics ranging from seed technology, market updates and nutritional information. Attendees also had the opportunity to tour both a sorghum farm and the Louis Dreyfus shipping facility at the Port of Houston. Prior to and after the event, the buyers from Mexico and China toured other parts of Texas to learn more about this years crop. “We believe these communications will be extremely useful for us to understand clients’  needs and therefore help us to better position ourselves for mutual benefits,” noted a buyer who attended the event from China. Exports are predicted to consume 77 percent of U.S. sorghum production in the 2015/16 marketing year, according to the most recent USDA WASDE report.


Sorghum farmer families and friends from around Guy, TX came together to host a Texas style BBQ for the international buyers at the Export Sorghum event. A special thanks to the Mikeska, Schultz, Fotjik, Jakubec and Janke families for hosting!

Sorghum Checkoff Referendum Passes – USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the results of the recent national sorghum checkoff referendum that took place from March 23, 2015 through April 21, 2015. Sorghum producers and importers who voted in the national referendum approved the continuation of the Sorghum Promotion, Research, and Information Order, commonly known as the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP). There were 1,202 valid ballot casts across the nation and 96.5 percent or 1,160 voted in favor of the program while 42 or 3.5 percent opposed continuing the program. Texas had 602 votes, the most of any of the states, where 580 favored the continuation of the program and only 22 opposed it.

New Sorghum Agronomist for Checkoff – The Sorghum Checkoff recently named Brent Bean, P.h.D., as the organization’s agronomist. In this new position, he will focus on identifying critical sorghum agronomic issues and designing targeted national and regionally based programs that provide farm-level yield advancements. His efforts will be on grain, forage, sweet and biomass sorghum. Texas Sorghum is excited to have Dr. Bean join the Sorghum Checkoff team as he has always been a valuable resource for sorghum agronomic information in the past. Bean was formerly the director of agronomy for NexSteppe Inc. where he had worldwide responsibilities for agronomy research and determined best management practices for optimizing biomass and sweet sorghum production. Prior to working for NexSteppe, Bean worked for Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension for more than 25 years.

TGSB Board Elections – Texas Grain Sorghum Board (TGSB) will hold its biennial election on August 27, 2015. The current terms of five of the 15 board members will expire this year. Any person who is engaged in the business of producing, or causing to be produced, sorghum for commercial purposes, is eligible to vote, including owners of farms and their tenants and sharecroppers, if such person is subject to paying the assessment that is collected on sorghum in Texas. Eligible voters in the districts may take part in the 2015 election. Voters will elect directors to serve a six-year term. Expiring terms include two directors from TGSB’s North District, one director from TGSB’s Central District, and two directors from TGSB’s South District. Any person qualified to vote in the election may place his or her name in nomination to represent the district in which he or she resides on the Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Board for a maximum term to six years. The nominee must certify that he or she is willing to serve if elected. The nomination form must be signed by the nominee and must have the signatures and complete mailing addresses of ten other eligible voters who reside in the district the person is seeking to represent. Nominations will open on June 22, 2015 and nomination forms may be obtained by contacting TGSB. Nominations must be filed with TGSB by July 27, 2015. The election will be held by mail ballot, which will be available to all eligible voters no later than 15 days prior to the election. Completed ballots must be mailed to Texas Grain Sorghum Board, 4201 N. I-27, Lubbock, TX 79403 and must be postmarked before midnight on August 27, 2015. Persons qualified to vote who do not receive a ballot 15 days prior to the election may obtain one at their local county agricultural extension office, or grain elevator, or by contacting TGSB.

Current Ag Legal Issues Update – Tiffany Dowell, Texas A&M Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, recently provided an update on a number of hot topics through her blog. WOTUS Rule Update. Many of you have asked questions recently regarding what is going to happen with the EPA’s now-final “waters of the United States” rule.  The rule should be published in the Federal Register any day.  Sixty days after that, it will become effective.  Numerous groups have already drafted lawsuits that will be filed challenging the scope of the new rule.  In the meantime, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed a bill this week that would repeal the final rule, provide guidelines to the EPA for re-formulating a rule, and require the EPA to consider input from stakeholders.  The bill will now be on the floor of the Senate.  [Read article here.] New Texas Law Would Protect Groundwater Conservation District Board Members from Personal Suit. Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3163, which provides immunity for GCD Board members from lawsuits for official votes and official actions.  The Texas Statesman published an interesting article this week discussing the stress on GCD board members and why this bill is needed.  [Read article here.]  The bill is currently on Governor Abbott’s desk awaiting signature. To subscribe to the daily blog updates on legal topics affecting the ag industry click here.

June 2, 2015

Sugarcane Aphid Population Smaller Than Expected – As farmers throughout the Rio Grande Valley braced themselves for another battle with the sugar cane aphid this year, populations seem to be smaller than last year. Researches believe steady rains and other factors this year may have stopped the insect from invading the sorghum crop. Last May, researchers warned that sorghum growers who failed to spray their fields faced crop losses of 50 to 80 percent after the insect’s population erupted across the region. Exploding growth led the aphid to infest the Valley’s sorghum fields in about two weeks, first attacking the plant’s leaves before beginning to move to its head, which farmers harvest for its grain. “We have an enigma as to what’s happening,” said Raul Villanueva, an entomologist at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Weslaco. “We were predicting them to be very abundant this year.” Villanueva recommended growers continue to check their fields for the pest. Last year, he said, the aphid reached peak populations in late June, mid-August and late September. “That’s our concern,” Villanueva said. “They need to continue checking their fields. This population can increase tremendously in two weeks.”

Unexpected Year Continues to Pose Problems for Producers – There is no doubt 2015 has been unlike anything producers across the state of Texas were prepared for. With the much-needed moisture making it impossible to get into some fields and planting date insurance deadlines looming for cotton, some producers are wondering what to do if they can’t get planted in time. They must also consider the cotton herbicides they have already applied to fields and restrictions that apply for other crops. According to Southwest Farm Press, Jourdan Bell, assistant professor and agronomist, Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center-Amarillo, noted in a recent email that farmers do have options. “The inability to plant cotton, coupled with cotton herbicides on the ground is a big concern,” she says. Bell recommends a link to a publication by Calvin Trostle, Extension agronomist at Lubbock, that addresses crop restrictions for herbicides applied for cotton. Treflan is bound very tightly in the soil, farmers can plant below the herbicide, and it is important to remember planting depth will vary, depending on how deep the herbicide was incorporated. Recent rains will not wash away the herbicide to alleviate the problem. It is best to plant under ideal conditions with soil temperatures at 65 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 days to ensure vigorous early growth.


KIND Bars Now Include Sorghum – The KIND brand has added two new Healthy Grains bars, popped salted caramel and popped dark chocolate with sea salt, that include sorghum as one of their six super grains in their whole grain ingredient blend. The Healthy Grains bars are promoted as gluten free and non-GMO. Popped Salted Caramel KIND Healthy Grains bars each have 20 grams of whole grains and are baked with caramel chunks and sea salt, while the Popped Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt KIND Healthy Grains bars each have 19 grams of whole grains and are baked with dark chocolate chunks and sea salt. KIND bars can be found at multiple locations such as GNC, Target and Vitamin Shoppe just to name a few, or on a variety of websites online. To order directly from the Kind website, visit www.kindsnacks.com.

Export Sorghum – Next week an exclusive three-day sorghum event hosted by the Sorghum Checkoff and Texas Sorghum Producers will take place in Houston, Texas. The event focuses on selling sorghum by building trade relationships between international sorghum buyers and U.S. exporters and by educating buyers on all that sorghum has to offer in hopes that they will continue to buy sorghum or begin to buy sorghum in the future. Approximately 25 international attendees from China, Mexico and Japan will be in attendance to hear up-to-date sorghum information that include presentations on markets, nutritional data, and upcoming sorghum research just to name a few. Prior to and after the event, the international teams will tour parts of Texas and Kansas making stops at elevators, sorghum fields and a port to learn more about U.S. sorghum.

Don’t forget to check-out our new online calendar at www.texasgsa.com/events! For calendar sponsorship opportunities, contact katelyn@texassorghum.org.

May 21, 2015

New TGSA Online Calendar – Recently, TGSA launched a new industry calendar on its website with the intent of providing producers, industry leaders and friends with a go to location for agricultural information and events. The calendar is geared toward both domestic and international viewers. By highlighting planting and harvest dates for major crops across Texas, the calendar provides international buyers with a better idea of crop status across the state. The calendar also includes sorghum industry events, elevator meetings, field dates, legislative updates and USGC reports among other things. It is our hope that this will serve as an industry calendar for Texas agriculture. As we continue to grow the calendar, if you have an event you would like to have posted on TGSA’s calendar, please contact Katelyn Luckett at katelyn@texassorghum.org. To view the calendar go to http://texasgsa.com/events/.

A snapshot of TGSA's new online calendar.

A snapshot of TGSA’s new online calendar.

Weekly Market Perspectives Report – Interested in what the international grain markets are doing week to week? The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) publishes a weekly Market Perspectives Report online. The report offers readers information about current coarse grain markets including price, weather and freight information for buying U.S. grains and their co-products. The most recent report and a list of archives can be accessed at a variety of places online:  USGC’s website or on TGSA’s new website calendar. If you wish to receive the report every Friday in your inbox, you can request it by emailing USGC at grains@grains.org.

A snapshot of a section of last week's USGC's Market Perspectives Report.

A snapshot of a section of last week’s USGC’s Market Perspectives Report.

Sugarcane Aphid Tips – There’s no doubt a pesky bug known as the sugarcane aphid is a lingering worry for most sorghum producers in Texas. Although the pest can be detrimental to a sorghum crop, the Sorghum Checkoff (USCP) believes if producers keep these five tips in mind, damage to fields can be minimized:

  1. Scout early and often – Justin Weinheimer, Sorghum Checkoff crop improvement director, says the most important aspect in dealing with the aphid is scouting. He encourages producers to scout for aphid presence several times a week, particularly as they near the latter part of the growing season. With early detection of the aphid, producers are able to put in place a scouting schedule and management plan. “Once producers get their scouting schedule set and identify their management plan, they will really be able to get a head start on identifying the issue before it becomes severe,” Weinheimer said.
  2. A few aphids does not mean crop failure or a need to spray immediately…it means scout more often – When sugarcane aphids are first detected, it is important to remember that a few aphids does not necessarily mean there is an issue. At first detection, Weinheimer said producers should scout further into their fields to see how the aphids have moved within the field as well as into neighboring fields. Producers should continue to scout at least three times a week throughout the season in order to monitor how the aphid is progressing. “I think the first step here for producers needs to be to reach out to their local entomologist expert to let them know they have identified this issue,” Weinheimer said. “Then they can work as a team, as a farm operation, to decide how to go about tackling it.”
  3. Current spray threshold estimates are 100 aphids per leaf – The recommended threshold for spraying is 100 aphids per leaf on several leaves on a plant, on at least 10 plants across the field. According to Weinheimer, it is important for producers to be able to determine if they are at that threshold as well as determine when to spray depending on where they are in the growing season. “Sorghum can take a high-aphid load, in terms of the number of aphids per plant, before it starts detrimentally impacting yield,” he said.
  4. The aphid reproduces very fast…do not wait to check back on a field – Scouting becomes even more important once the presence of the sugarcane aphid is detected. Because of the quick reproduction cycle of the aphid, its population can grow from a few aphids to a full infestation within a 10-day period if no action is taken. “In order to accurately gauge what the aphids are doing in the field, producers really have to be checking every three days,” Weinheimer said.
  5. There are tools available to help prevent and combat this pest – DEKALB, Pioneer and Chromatin announced the addition of hybrids that showed tolerance to the aphid. In addition, Syngenta recently announced approval for Cruiser 5FS seed treatment in 16 states by Section 2(ee) exemption. These companies along with others continue to research additional genetics to introduce to the market. When the aphid population reaches the spray threshold, producers have some options when it comes to pesticides. Transform WG, a product of Dow AgroSciences, is available by state through a Section 18 exemption. Sivanto, produced by Bayer CropScience, is a newly available option with a full label at a reduced rate. Other companies also offer broad-level insecticides that can be used to treat aphids.

To help mitigate the effects of the sugarcane aphid, Sorghum Partners recently announced a Sugarcane Aphid Integrated Pest Management (IPM)program that combines the use of multiple pest control tactics. Weinheimer said producers will continue to see more tools brought to the market in the near future, and the Sorghum Checkoff is actively involved in gaining a better understanding of how to manage it. Currently, the Checkoff is working in collaboration with Dow AgroSciences on a national endeavor geared toward sugarcane aphid control. The Checkoff board of directors invested $350,000 in this project. “The sugarcane aphid, while it has presented some issues in the past, is treatable,” Weinheimer said. “It is possible to have a very profitable crop and do a great job growing grain sorghum in the presence of the aphid.”

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The NWS map shows the observed precipitation in Texas for the past 30 days.

Wet Weather Pauses Farming – Texas AgriLife’s weekly crop report can pretty much be summed with the word “wet”.  Heavy rains continue to impact much of the state. The coast was pounded with yet again more rain and many fields in the area still have standing water in their fields covering up the sorghum and cotton. There are still areas that have a good crop of sorghum, with early planted fields beginning to head out. North Texas has had lots of rains that have caused flooding, and for the time being, has halted corn and sorghum planting. The sorghum fields that have been planted were showing not to be in the best condition and might have to be replanted once it dries out. The panhandle and high plains areas also saw more rain and are experiencing much colder than average temps which has delayed planting and put everything behind schedule. Because of this, farmers are looking at shorter season corn hybrids and are thinking about replacing some acres with sorghum. Sorghum is also expected to go behind harvested wheat once growers can get in the field to begin harvest. The valley also received more rain but row crops were mostly reported to be progressing well.


The rains this year have definitely helped the Texas drought index from where we were one year ago today (right).

USDA Invests $6.5 Million to Help Conserve Water & Improve Water Quality in Ogallala Aquifer Region – On May 14, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the USDA plans to invest $6.5 million in the Ogallala Aquifer region this year to help farmers and ranchers conserve billions of gallons of water and improve water quality. Funding will be targeted to seven priority areas to support their primary water source and strengthen rural economies. “This funding assists conservationists and agricultural producers in planning and implementing conservation practices that conserve water and improve water quality,” said Vilsack. “This work not only expands the viability of the Ogallala Aquifer but also helps producers across the Great Plains strengthen their agricultural operations.” Through the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI), USDA’s NRCS is directing funding in FY 2015 to support targeted, local efforts to improve the quality and availability of this vital water supply. This year’s work is planned in seven priority areas in five states and will continue for up to four years. It will conserve billions of gallons of water per year, extending the viability of the aquifer for multiple uses. This conservation investment builds on $66 million that NRCS has invested through OAI since 2011, which helped farmers and ranchers conserve water on more than 325,000 acres. The Secretary noted that much of the funding invested by USDA has been matched or supplemented by individual producers. To see the complete list of priority areas, click here.

2016 Federal Crop Insurance Deadline – June 1st is the deadline for growers to file an AD-1026 at their local FSA offices in order to be eligible for federal crop insurance. The 2014 Farm Bill requires farmers to have up-to-date and accurate information on file for the Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certificate. Growers who are not in compliance will not receive crop insurance premium support for 2016. If growers already have forms on file they are encouraged to make sure their forms are current and accurate.

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.

April 14, 2015

Sugarcane Aphid Research – The Sorghum Checkoff in collaboration with Dow AgroSciences has announced a $350,000 plan to address the sugarcane aphid in U.S. sorghum production ranging from key management protocols to optimal spray thresholds. Leading scientific and entomology cooperators from 12 states will partner with USCP and Dow AgroSciences. Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Board (TGSB) also committed approximately $95,000 to other projects in the state pertaining to the sugarcane aphid research and education this year. Also, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has recently released a blog for the most up-to-date sugarcane aphid news in the state. You can view or subscribe to the blog at txscan.blogspot.com.

5 Reasons to Plant Grain Sorghum This Year – The Sorghum Checkoff (USCP) is giving you five very good reasons to plant grain sorghum this year and they include: 1) Highest new crop bids in history; 2) Strong demand for grains globally; 3) Highest potential profit; 4) Risk aversion; and 5) Strong yield potential. To echo these statements, sorghum is very competitive with other grains this year, exports to China are exploding, production costs are low, less water is required as compared to other mainstream crops, and producers are putting up higher and higher yields each year. Still not convinced? – Click here to read USCP’s complete story.

2015 Sorghum Acres – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Prospective Plantings report estimates that grain sorghum acreage in Texas in 2015 will be up 20 percent from last year. In 2014 Texas planted 2.5 million acres and USDA predicts that number will jump to 3 million acres this year. In Texas, corn is expected to be up 2% from 2.25 million acres to 2.30 million acres, all wheat is expected to be down 2% from 6 million acres to 5.9 million acres, all cotton is expected to be down 8% from 6.217 million acres to 5.715 million acres, all sunflowers are expected to be down 9% from 104,000 acres to 95,000 acres, peanuts are expected to stay the same at 130,000 acres, soybeans are expected to be down 6% from 155,000 acres to 145,000 acres, and all rice is expected to stay the same at 150,000 acres. The total sorghum acreage for the U.S. is expected to reach 7.9 million acres in 2015 which is up 11 percent from 7.1 million acres in 2014. Out of the 7.1 million acres planted in 2014 in the nation, 6.4 million acres were harvested. Several states such as Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma are predicted to expand on planted sorghum acreage this year. If USDA’s predictions prove accurate, Texas will surpass Kansas as the highest planted sorghum state by 100,000 acres.
To compare, a March planting intentions survey conducted by Farm Futures recently found producers ready to boost sorghum seedings 18% this spring to 8.4 million acres. At its outlook conference in February, USDA forecasts farmers will plant only 5.1% more acres to sorghum this spring; however, contradicted to their above outlook and since then, corn prices have deteriorated deeper into the red. While surpluses of other crops mount, sorghum inventories are expected to end the marketing year with just a 23-day supply, the second tightest level in the past 40 years. Exports, driven by sales to China, are forecast at their best in 25 years. The article published in Farm Futures, goes on to say, Chinese grain processors turned to sorghum when their government effectively banned corn imports from the U.S. late in 2013. But while the ban on U.S. imports has been lifted officially, corn purchases from the U.S. remain minimal. Only 3.25 million bushels has been shipped so far. By contrast, total 2014 crop sales and shipments of sorghum to China hit 248 million bushels this week. To read the entire article, click here.


USCP Request for Pre-Proposals – The Sorghum Checkoff (USCP) is soliciting 2016 pre-proposals for targeted research and education with the goal to “Further Enhance the Opportunities for Sorghum Producers through Specific Projects and/or Education that will INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY, DEMAND and/or VALUE.” Pre-proposals are due by 8:00 a.m. CST on May 8th, 2015. Proposals that were selected in the pre-proposal process will then be eligible for full proposal submission this summer. Send pre-proposals to proposals@sorghumcheckoff.com. For more details on the formatting and guidelines, click here.

USDA Seeking USCP BOD Nominees – USDA is seeking nominations for sorghum producers to serve on the Sorghum Checkoff board of directors. There are four producer member vacancies with Kansas having two available seats, Texas having one available seat, and one at-large seat is available. Any sorghum producer who grows sorghum can be considered for nomination. All eligible producers are invited to submit a nomination by May 1, 2015. Producers must be nominated by a Certified Producer Organization and must submit a completed applications. More information can be found here.

Sorghum Scholarships – The National Sorghum Foundation is again offering the Sorghum Challenge scholarships and the Rosenow Memorial scholarships. The challenge scholarship is offered to undergraduate students enrolled in an agriculture-based department, is $1,500 and includes a full expense paid trip to Washington D.C. with National Sorghum Producers (NSP). The Rosenow Memorial scholarship is offered to undergraduate students enrolled in agriculturally-based departments related to agronomy, plant pathology and plant breeding with an emphasis on sorghum. Deadline for submissions is June 1, 2015 and more information can be found here.



March 10, 2015

Texas Sorghum Group at the Texas Capitol in Austin Back Row L-R: James Born, Dan Krienke, Blake Tregellas, Warren Mayberry Middle: Dale Artho, Josh Birdwell, Brannon Byers, Clarence Chopelas, Wayne Cleveland Front: Charlcey Plummer, Jason Frantz, Greg Glover

Texas Sorghum Group at the Texas Capitol in Austin
Back Row L-R: James Born, Dan Krienke, Blake Tregellas, Warren Mayberry
Middle:  Dale Artho, Josh Birdwell, Brannon Byers, Clarence Chopelas, Wayne Cleveland
Front:  Charlcey Plummer, Jason Frantz, Greg Glover

2015 TGSP Austin Fly-In – During Feb. 16-18 Texas Grain Sorghum Producers (TGSP) hosted a “Capitol Day” in Austin in an effort to familiarize producers and industry leaders with legislators and decision makers in Austin. The group of 18 people which included sorghum producers and industry leaders from across the state spent a day and a half at the Capitol discussing sorghum and the ag industry during both group meetings, and individual appointments. Meetings with Senator Charles Perry, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ag, Water & Rural Affairs; Dan Hunter, TDA’s Assistant Commissioner for Water and Rural Affairs; Drew DeBerry, Policy Director for Governor Abbott; Representative Tracy O. King, Chairman of the House Committee on Ag and Rural Livestock; Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick; House of Representatives Speaker Joe Straus; the Texas Water Development Board; Senator Troy Fraser, Chairman of Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development; and numerous meetings with other Senators and Representatives took place during the fly-in. Attending Governor Abbott’s State of the State Address was also a highlight of the trip. “The 2015 legislative session served as a great opportunity for sorghum producers and industry leaders to educate folks in Austin about grain sorghum as well as the ag industry,” said Wayne Cleveland, Executive Director – TGSP. “I am very proud of the meeting lineup we were able to schedule and feel we conveyed a great message that while producers are still a minority, they efficiently feed a growing and hungry world.”

2014 Sorghum Checkoff Annual Report – Click here to view the 2014 Annual Report of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP). The report highlights 2014 U.S. sorghum planted acres (Texas had 2.5 million), 2014 financials (over $3.5 million was used for sorghum research), and what the Sorghum Checkoff is doing to improve the crop, enhance renewable fuels, expand markets, provide education, and increase leadership.

A snapshot of the 2014 Sorghum Checkoff Annual Report

Screen shot of the 2014 Sorghum Checkoff Annual Report

Texas Row Crops Newsletter – Don’t miss out on your chance to receive an online newsletter from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Click here to view current stories and to subscribe to receive the newsletter in your inbox! The first edition of the Texas Row Crops Newsletter included articles on:  Grain Sorghum and Resistance to Sugarcane Aphid, Early Rust Pressures in Texas Wheat, and Using Topguard to Control Root Rot. Subscribers will also receive upcoming events hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension across the state.

Alta Seeds Release New Sorghum Hybrids – Alta Seeds, the premium brand of Advanta, announced the addition of two new grain sorghum hybrids for the 2015 planting season. Alta Seeds released AG1101, an early maturity bronze colored grain sorghum, is adapted for use across the High Plains with strong drought tolerance, excellent uniformity, good threshability and well-suited to dryland farming. It is now their earliest maturing grain sorghum hybrid and works well for short-season or double-cropping situations. AG1301, a strong performer in drylands conditions responds favorably to irrigation, is a cream colored grain sorghum with medium-early maturity and is widely adapted to the Texas Panhandle with high yield potential and excellent root lodging and seedling vigor. For more information and Alta Seeds portfolio of sorghum products, visit www.AltaSeeds.com.

7 Years of Success – As the Sorghum Checkoff closes on its 7th year since its inception in 2008, many achievements in crop improvement, branding and market development have happened along the way. To view an online brochure of the highlights of the producer funded program from the past 7 years, click here.

7 Years of Success Screen Shot

Screen Shot of the Sorghum Checkoff’s 7 Years of Success Brochure.

Potential Baijiu Market in the U.S. – China’s potent liquor, Baijiu (pronounced “bye-joe”), will make a run in the U.S. The high-proof (usually bottled at 100 proof or higher) fermented spirit made from sorghum is a staple liquor in China and many businessman there go head to head to see who can take the most shots. Baijiu is expected to make a move into the U.S. market as it is already the world’s biggest-selling spirit, with an estimated $23 billion market. China consumes an estimated 10.6 billion liters per year and we will soon know if the U.S. feels the same way about this liquor that needs an acquired taste.

ARC/PLC Deadline – Don’t forget that the deadline for producers to sign up for the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) farm bill programs is March 31st. This is also the deadline to update yield history or reallocate base acres. If no changes are made by this date to yield history and base acres then the farm’s current base and yield will be used. There will be no 2014 payments for a farm that does not make a choice and it defaults the farm to PLC coverage through the 2018 crop year.

Sorghum Exports Still Soaring - U.S. sorghum exports have reached commitments of 300 million bushels for 2014-15, or 69 percent of the total crop. In 2012-13, total exports were only 212 million bushels or 54 percent of that year’s crop. For the 2015-16 marketing year there has already been 8.6 million bushels contracted.

February 12, 2015


2015 NSP D.C. Fly-In – Sorghum members from across the nation were in D.C. earlier this month visiting key leadership to provide educational information and address important issues in the sorghum and agricultural industries. Seven members from across the state represented Texas Grain Sorghum Association (TGSA) at the fly-in hosted by National Sorghum Producers (NSP). The attendees from Texas included:  Greg Methvin, a producer from Hockley county; Danny Beyer, a producer from San Patricio county; Jake West, manager of Corpus Christi Grain; Greg Glover, a producer from Amarillo; Joe Pennington, a producer from Willacy county; James Born, a producer and TGSB board of director from Ochiltree county; and Wayne Cleveland, Executive Director of TGSA. The group met with many key leaders in D.C. including:  USDA officials, EPA officials, Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack, and several elected officials. The group also had good meetings with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts about the implementation of the farm bill, the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the need to leave crop insurance alone and make no more cuts to it.

Obama Proposes Budget Cuts to Ag Programs – The proposed budget for the 2016 federal fiscal year, sent to Congress by President Barack Obama, proposes cutting crop insurance subsidies by $16 billion over 10 years to offset commodity programs because it is projected that crop insurance will likely cost more than initially thought when the 2014 Farm Bill was written. The program currently only costs about $9 billion per year. Not only does his proposed budget cut crop insurance but it also cuts back on the number of acres enrolled in the CSP and trims mandatory spending for the EQIP. To view more details and find out the viewpoints of Obama’s groups who support these cuts, click here. As mentioned in the above story, sorghum growers were in D.C. urging lawmakers not to make anymore cuts to the farm bill.

2015 Texas Ag Forum – Up-to-date information about farm bill sign-up decisions will be the hot topic at this year’s Texas Ag Forum on Feb 20th. The forum is being held in late February to get as close to the sign-up deadline of March 31st when producers have to decide between Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) under the new farm bill. There will be presentations from policy makers, university experts and farm group representatives. The forum will be held at the Hilton Austin Airport hotel and advanced registration is $125 through the Texas Agricultural Coop Council (512-450-0555). Same day registration is $150 but seating is limited. The Texas Ag Forum is an association of agricultural leaders and representatives from across the Texas food and fiber system.

20th Annual Commodity Classic – Sorghum, corn, wheat and soybean growers from across the nation will come together for the 20th Annual Commodity Classic on Feb. 26-28 in Phoenix. Along with numerous educational sessions and high-profile speakers, National Sorghum Producers will hold a sorghum general session, an awards banquet for the NSP yield contest winners, and a PAC event. Watch the video below and find out why you should join sorghum growers in Phoenix!

NSP Yield Contest Winners from Texas – National Sorghum Producers announced the winners of their 2014 Yield Contest whom will be recognized in Phoenix at the Commodity Classic at the end of this month. There were three national winners from Texas and they were:  Fike Farms of Hidalgo county planted DEKALB DKS53-67 and placed 1st in the Double Crop Irrigated category with a yield of 151.63; Weldon Alders of Leon county planted Richardson Seeds 9400 and placed 1st in the Conventional-Till Non-Irrigated category with a yield of 205.74; and Henson Land and Cattle of Hockley county planted Pioneer 84P80 and placed 1st in the Conventional-Till Irrigated Category with a yield of 245.94. State winners from Texas included:  L and L Farms-Lynn Born of Lipscomb county, Robert D. Yosko of Wilson county, Keith Kresta of Wharton county, Jimmy Dodson-3D Farms of Nueces county, Monte Wright of Ochiltree county, and Fike Farms of Hidalgo county. To see the complete list of winners with yields and seed varieties planted, click here.

New Sugarcane Aphid Tolerant Sorghum Germplasm Released - The Texas A&M AgriLife Sorghum Improvement Program announced the release of two sorghum germ plasm lines – Tx3408 and Tx3409 with tolerance to the sugarcane aphid. The program noted that these two seed parent lines possess substantial tolerance to the sugarcane aphid.

Sorghum in the News – Recently the sorghum industry has been receiving some positive media attention. Last week, the Wall Street Daily ran an article titled “Sorghum: Ancient Grain Makes a Plentiful Comeback.” The article, which referred to sorghum as the “camel of crops,” because of its water efficiency, went on to detail the timeline of events that has lead to the markets strong demand for the grain. To read the full article, click here.

Chromatin Research Expansion – Chromatin Inc., a large sorghum research company, will be the first tenant in the Texas Tech University Research and Technology Park, which is under construction near the Texas Tech University Campus in Lubbock. The company, which focuses on creating new sorghum seed products to use resources efficiently and grow on marginal land, was announced as the first tenant today. Chromatin, which has field operations in Idalou, will be centralizing its research efforts in West Texas, according to Robert V. Duncan, vice president of research at Tech. The Research and Technology Park is a $29 million, 40,000-square-foot facility that will promote entrepreneurialism, innovation and partnerships between academic and business communities to further research efforts in several areas.

 TAWC Water College – The first annual Texas Alliance for Water Conservation (TAWC) was held last month in Lubbock with approximately 150 attendees. Presentations ranged from grain sorghum production and water use to understanding soil moisture probe data. To view all of the presentations from the event, click here.

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