Officials:Sorghum harvests plentiful

By Casey Peacock: Freedom New Mexico

Grain sorghum farmers are reporting an above average year with yields double and even triple the average, according to area producers and officials.

“It is probably one of the better crops we’ve had in the past five years,” said Toby Bostwick, Curry County farmer and president-elect for the National Sorghum Producers Association.

Timely rains before planting and again afterward were a big help in establishing the crop, according to Mark Marsalis, Extension Agronomy Specialist at the New Mexico State University Agriculture Science Center at Clovis.

“Although it (became dry) later in the summer, sorghum, being a drought-tolerant crop, was able to hang on and make good yields for those who were fortunate enough to get a few showers,” Marsalis said.

Farmers planted 32,960 acres of dryland sorghum and 8,769 acres of irrigated sorghum in Roosevelt County, according to Harold Terry of the Farm Service Agency in Portales.

“It’s been a better year than we’ve had in a long time,” Terry said.

Bostwick said the irrigated sorghum has already been harvested, while 60 to 70 percent of dryland harvest is complete.

He said farmers are feeling a sense of urgency to get the rest of the crop harvested due to a combination of factors, including the recent high winds that have swept across the area.

Irrigated grain sorghum produced on average 5,000 to 7,000 pounds per acre, while dryland grain sorghum is producing more than 2,000 pounds an acre.

The average harvest for irrigated sorghum is 2,000 to 3,000 pounds per acre, Bostwick said.

Sold by the hundred weight, the majority of the grain sorghum bought by local grain elevators. Consumers use grain sorghum for feed and ethanol, Bostwick said.

“There’s a lot of market for sorghum right now,” Bostwick said.

J.D. Heiskell General Manager Dick Holland stated that the price for grain sorghum on Wednesday was $6.13 per hundred pounds delivered to Portales. Two years ago the average price in the U.S. was $2.99, according to USDA data compiled by the University of Wisconsin.

At J.D. Heiskell, the grain sorghum is processed to be used for grain for dairies, rolled and is sold to ethanol plants, Holland said.