Texas Sorghum Insider

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

January 29, 2015

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Swine and Poultry nutritionist from Kansas State University answer questions regarding feeding US grain sorghum at a conference in Nanning, China.

China Begins to Dominate Market – TGSB, in conjunction with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) and the US Grain Council (USGC), recently held nutritional and logistical/informational meetings regarding US grain sorghum in three cities in China; Shanghai, Nanning and Guangzhou. “While most end-users in China understand the nutritive values of sorghum many companies that source US sorghum still don’t understand growing regions and harvest dates as well as purchasing opportunities in the market”, stated Wayne Cleveland, ED- TGSP. While in China the group held two conferences that were “standing room only” with approximately 200 people attending each conference. The group, hosted by USGC, also called on merchants and feed mill operators to ensure a consistent flow of information reaches this new market. China continues to purchase grain sorghum from the US with totals nearing 6 mmt or 235 million bushels for the current marketing year. Total grain production in the United States for the 2014 marketing year was 420 million bushels.

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Pictured with Wayne Cleveland are Doug Bice, USCP Marketing Director and Henry Wu, Owner of Concordia Trading of Shanghai. Mr. Woo was the first Chinese buyer to import grain sorghum in 2013 and continues to be a consistent purchaser.

SivantoTM Insecticide Registration – On January 20, Bayer CropScience announced that SivantoTM insecticide received registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and will be available for the 2015 growing season. Sivanto targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. With flexible application timings and compatibility with many beneficial insects and predatory mites, Sivanto works to preserve the overall health of plants. Sivanto provides excellent control of aphids, including the sugarcane aphid, which has been found in high populations in recent years. Sivanto is the first member of a new chemical class of insecticides, the Butenolides (newly created IRAC subgroup 4D) and has shown excellent control of neonicotinoid-resistant aphids and whiteflies in U.S. field trials. It is registered on a broad range of horticulture crops and most broad-acre crops, including citrus, pome fruit, grapes, bush berries, tree nuts (not including almonds), potatoes, vegetables, alfalfa, cotton, sorghum and several specialty crops (such as blueberry and clover from IR-4), which allows for inclusive and flexible crop rotation programs. Sivanto can be applied as a foliar spray or as a soil drench, shank or drip application, depending on the crop, allowing growers maximum flexibility with their crop protection tools.

USDA NRCS Accepting Applications for CSP – The United States Department of Ag (USDA) National Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced it is accepting applications for their Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The program will have $100 million available this year. Applications are accepted all year; however, farmers and ranchers should submit applications by Feb. 27, 2015 to ensure they are considered for this year’s funding (applications received after that date will be considered for future funding). This year’s investment may result in the enrollment of up to 7.7 million acres in the program by private landowners. Through CSP, participants take additional conservation steps to improve the resource conditions on their land, including soil, air and habitat quality, water quality and quantity, and energy conservation. CSP will also help broaden the impacts of NRCS’ Landscape Conservation Initiatives through a new pilot effort, which accelerates private lands conservation activities to address particular goals, such as creating habitat for at-risk species and conserving and cleaning water. They include the following initiatives – the Lesser Prairie-Chicken, the Ogallala Aquifer, and the Longleaf Pine – all of which are available in Texas. Applications should be submitted to your local NRCS offices and may find a CSP self-screening checklist by clicking here to help producers determine eligibility, ranking and payments.

WASDE Report Indicates Sorghum Demand – According to the latest WASDE report, the 2014/15 sorghum yield was raised to 67.6 bushels per acre and harvested acres were raised to 6.4 million. This resulted in an increase in production of 25 million bushels, to 433 million. Other 2014/15 U.S. feed grain changes reflect the continued strong pace of sorghum export sales and shipments to China and changes in feed and residual disappearance as indicated by the December 1 stocks. Exports were raised to 40 million bushels to 270 million, and the farm price was raised to $3.80. This is 104 percent of the farm price of corn, which is the second-highest the ratio has been in the past 70 years.

Sorghum Glycemic Index Values – Glycemic Index (GI) values allow nutritionists, menu planners and food formulators to compare blood glucose rise after consumption of foods containing carbohydrates. Numerous factors ranging from rate of food consumption to nutrient composition of other foods eaten at the same time can affect GI. Sydney University’s Glycemic Index Research Service who maintain the world’s largest database of GI values analyzed whole grain white sorghum flour and whole grain burgundy sorghum flour and determined GI of 70 and 66 respectively. Both values were significantly different (p<0.001) from the glucose standard with a GI of 100, but were not significantly different from each other.

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In this study, each of the sorghum flours were mixed with water to make a batter
and subsequently pancakes were cooked for the test. No other typical pancake ingredients such as milk, fat
or eggs were added. Furthermore, the total available carbohydrate amount of 50 grams used in this test is unlikely to be a serving. Since the carbohydrate affects blood glucose level, nutritionists calculate the glycemic load (GL) to accommodate for differing amounts of carbohydrates/serving. Multiplying the GI by the carbohydrates/serving and dividing by 100 yields the GL value. The GL thus takes into account the fact that people eat varying amounts of carbohydrates per serving of food. Ultimately, this study found the white whole grain sorghum flour GL is ranked high (on the med-high cusp) and the burgundy whole grain sorghum flour GL is ranked medium. The burgundy whole grain sorghum contains slightly more fiber and protein, (slightly lower carbohydrates) thus the expected lower GI and GL. However, the two whole grain sorghums flours were not statistically significantly different from each other, while both were statistically significantly lower than the glucose control (p< 0.001). Knowing which food will produce a lower blood glucose response is an important consideration for people with diabetes and those at risk of developing it. This knowledge can help you determine if sorghum is the smart choice for you and your family.

 

 

 

December 10, 2014

Sugarcane Aphid Tolerant Sorghum Hybrids Announced – Recently, two sorghum seed companies, Monsanto and Chromatin, announced findings of sugarcane aphid tolerant sorghum hybrids. In a release Dec. 4, Monsanto said, “Third-Party evaluation performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Stillwater, Okla., has confirmed that two DEKALB ® Sorghum products, DKS37-07 variety & PULSAR brand, exhibit a high level of genetic tolerance to the sugarcane aphid.
“In the screening evaluation, both products showed extremely low levels of chlorotic damage from the sugarcane aphid compared to the known tolerant check line TX2783. Additionally, DKS37-07 showed very positive plant height and early health ratings when exposed to the pest. These products combined with continued scouting and an effecting spray program as needed, will give growers the best opportunity to limit sugarcane aphid damage on their farms.”
Chromatin also released a statement regarding their resistant sorghum varieties.
“A third-party evaluation conducted by the Agricultural Research Service division of the USDA verified that several Sorghum Partners® brand sorghum hybrids exhibit strong tolerance to the sugarcane aphid pest. The use of SP6929, KS310, NK5418, and K73-J6 hybrids, as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, can effectively reduce the impact of a sugarcane aphid infestation.” Please remember that these hybrids are not showing resistance but tolerance.
To read either release in their entirety follow the links:  Monsanto Release / Chromatin Release.

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High Plains & South Plains AgriLife Sorghum Variety Trials – Results for the Perryton Irrigated Trial, Hereford Irrigated Trial, Lubbock Dryland Trial and Lubbock Irrigated Trial have been posted on Texas A&M AgriLife’s Variety Testing website. Basic agronomic data and the top three yielding varieties are presented in the table below. For more details and results of all hybrids, please visit the AgriLife variety testing website. Results from other areas of the state that were harvested earlier in the year are also posted.

Location Date Planted # of Varieties MEAN Yield(lbs/A) Previous Crop Irrigation Highest Yielding Variety Second Highest Yielding Variety Third Highest Yielding Variety
Hereford Irrigated 5/20 51 6,718 Fallow 4.5” of row water on 7/23 8,306Monsanto Co.DEKALBDKS51-01 8,262MonsantoDEKALBDKS49-45 8,076Terral Seed Inc.REV®RV9562™
Perryton Irrigated 5/21 49 9,019 Fallow 5 furrow applications in season of approx3” each 10,807Monsanto Co.DEKALBDKS53-53 10,652MonsantoDEKALBDKS53-67 10,294Armor Seed, LLCArmor BANDIT
Lubbock Irrigated 5/21 47 4,244 Sorghum 1 pre-plant; 1 in-season of approx 4.5 acre inches 5,785Alta SeedsAG3201 5,172Browning SeedChallenger BMX 5,121Alta SeedsAG3101
Lubbock Dryland 7/19 29 1,763 Cotton 1 pre-plant of approx 4.5 acre inches for planting 2,216AgriLifeATx2752xRTx430 2,170Terral Seed Inc.REV®TV9782™ 2,145Monsanto Co.DEKALBDKS41-50

Upcoming Farm Bill Meetings
Friday, December 19
Floyd & Crosby County featuring Dr. Joe Outlaw (A&M ANFPC)
8:00 am – 11:00 am
Floyd Co. Unity Center

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House Addresses Tax Extenders Issue – National Sorghum Producers (NSP) recently released information on the tax extender issue addressed in the House of Representatives last week where they  voted to address several expired tax policies affecting farmers and ranchers. The House-passed legislation provides a one-year extension and includes the following pieces relevant to America’s sorghum farmers:
· Extends the Sec. 179 small business deduction of up to $500,000 for new/used equipment (Sec. 127 of the bill);
· Extends the 50 percent bonus depreciation for the first year on certain property purchased for business use (Sec. 125);
· Extends the charitable deduction for certain food donations (Sec. 126); and
· Extends the 50 percent deduction for landowners who give conservation easements to a government agency or land trust entity, and includes the enhanced dedication of up to 100 percent (over 16 years) for certain qualified farmers/ranchers (Sec. 106).
The Senate is expected to take up the measurement next week with the possibility it will go to the White House for the President’s signature in 10-15 days. NSP recently joined a group of agriculture and business groups in a letter to Members of Congress urging them address the tax policies. The letter can be read here.

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November 19, 2014

International Sorghum Demand – While China’s presence in the U.S. market became noticed last year, they are certainly making a statement this year. China’s most recent purchase last week of 11.35 million bushels was the largest this marketing year. China purchased 60 percent of the U.S. sorghum crop in the 2013/2014 marketing year. Japan also purchased 2.3 million bushels of U.S. sorghum last week. Only two and a half months into the current marketing year (beginning Sept. 1), total export commitments of U.S. sorghum are already at 136.95 million bushels (China has purchased 87 percent of that total). Commitments during the 2013/2014 marketing year totaled 199 million total bushels. Japan, Canada and Korea are the only other known buyers at this stage.

Section 18 Extension – Texas received an amendment to the Section 18 for the use of sulfoxaflor. This amendment extend the use period with a new expiration date of December 10, 2014. View the new Section 18 Use Directions –  14TX02 Transform WG Amended Section 18 Use Directions exp 12.10.2014.

 

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Global Food Security – As 150,000 new people are born every day the pressure to produce more food efficiently continues to increase. As nearly one billion go to bed hungry every night, DuPont is actively fighting world hunger on numerous levels. One of note however, is a new database the company sponsors called The Global Food Security Index. DuPont teamed up with a group of experts to take a closer look at food security and trends associated with it. The panel, ranging from the academic, non-profit and the government sector, assess the core issues of food affordability, availability and quality for 109 countries. This index is the first to examine food security comprehensively across the three internationally established dimensions. The study also looks beyond hunger to the underlying factors affecting food insecurity. To increase the ongoing relevance of the study the index is updated quarterly to reflect the risk countries face throughout the year. A version of the index along with graphics illustrating food security trends globally can be found at http://foodsecurityindex.eiu.com/.

This graphic from May 2014 showcases the top 10 ranked countries for food security.

This graphic from May 2014 showcases the top 10 ranked countries for food security.

 

 Featured Sorghum Recipe

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

3 cups sorghum flour
1/2cup coconut sugar
1 cup palm shortening (softened)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 eggs1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In one bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.
  3. In another bowl, mix the softened shortening and the sugar together.
  4. Then add in the vanilla and flax eggs.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix only until combined.
  6. If the batter looks too dry, add in the almond milk one tablespoon at a time.
  7. Gather the dough into a ball.
  8. Cut the dough in half.
  9. Wrap both pieces of dough and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  10. Grab one piece of the dough and roll onto a floured surface until it’s about 1/4 inch thick.
  11. Cut into shapes. Place the cookie shapes onto a lined baking sheet.
  12. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cookie edges turn a golden brown.
  13. Let cookies completely cool before removing them from the baking sheet.

Repeat these steps with the second ball of dough.Store these cookies in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also freeze them for longer storage. Enjoy!

Recipe provided by www.mywholefoodlife.com.

Recipe provided by www.mywholefoodlife.com.

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