Why Sorghum Over Corn?

Corn is giving way to sorghum as a silage crop across the country as producers discover that forage sorghum produces similar yields to corn with 30 percent to 50 percent less water, which in some irrigated areas of the West has become a scarce commodity and highly valued.

According to independent research data published in 2001, irrigated forage sorghums, depending upon type, will yield 1.75 to 2.5 tons of biomass per 1 inch of irrigation water, while corn produces less than 1.0 ton per inch of water applied. With rising energy costs and water conservation concerns across the U.S., sorghum with its high water use efficiency (WUE) offers a viable economic and sustainable alternative to corn.

“The drought and heat tolerance makes sorghum a logical choice for many areas of the country,” says Ricky Rice, Advanta US forage specialist and sales manager. “We’ve seen tremendous sales growth in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states, as well as the Midwest, which traditionally has been dominated by corn for silage.”

“We are seeing Advanta’s hybrid forage sorghums replacing corn silage on highly productive soils because yields and nutritional value are comparable at a much lower cost to the producer,” he continues.

“Sorghums have a very large and extensive root system capable of reaching soil profile depths of over five feet, which enables the sorghum plant to find water when other crops like corn, cannot,” says Rice.

A recent study conducted by Texas AgriLife Extension indicated that if producers in the Texas Panhandle converted irrigated corn silage acreage to a sorghum-based system, the region could save over 400,000 acre inches of water annually. This would lower the cost of irrigation pumping by $2.8 million. Likewise, a Regional Water Plan prepared for the Texas Panhandle Water Planning Group in Amarillo, TX, found that the water savings over 50 years for 524,243 acres spread over 21 counties in the Texas Panhandle would amount to 7.36 million acre-feet of water if irrigated corn acreage were converted to irrigated sorghum. That’s an average, 147,200 acre-feet saved per year — about 48 billion gallons (182 billion liters) per year.

“These WUE benefits are not unique to Texas,” Rice says. “Sorghum can help any producer in almost any region of the US reduce production costs without sacrificing tonnage or forage nutritional quality.”

Even where irrigation is not limiting, sorghum remains a more economical choice over corn because similar biomass yields and forage quality can be produced using much less water, with reduced energy and labor costs. Forage sorghum used for animal feed stocks provides an attractive alternative to corn-based systems from both a production and water conservation standpoint in both dryland and irrigated production systems.

Sorghums tolerate significant moisture stress and will resume vegetative growth after drought-induced dormancy. Sorghum leaves are generally smooth and covered with a waxy substance called “bloom” that reduces water loss. Additionally, sorghum leaves have a very high number of stomates (openings for uptake of carbon dioxide and release of oxygen and water). Under water stress the leaves will roll along the midrib reducing leaf surface area, keeping the plant from losing water and wilting.

(Source: Advanta)

Leave a Reply

Seed/Biotech Stories

dicamba, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend
Crop InputsASA: No Dicamba On Roundup Ready 2 Xtend In 2016
May 16, 2016
While Roundup Ready 2 Xtend (RR2X) are tolerant to dicamba and glyphosate herbicides, no dicamba herbicides will be approved for Read More
Crop InputsGMO Pipeline Features Consumer Targeted Modifications
April 15, 2016
The newly approved GMO Simplot Innate potato, developed to produce lower amounts of the harmful-yet-natural chemical acrylamide, resist bruising, and Read More
Crop InputsReuters: Chinese GMO Seed Espionage Making Iowa Farmers Uneasy
April 12, 2016
Tim Burrack, a northern Iowa farmer in his 44th growing season, has taken to keeping a wary eye out for Read More
Peanut field
FungicidesArysta LifeScience Receives EPA Approval Of Fungicide Seed Treatment
April 5, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced it received approval from the EPA of RANCONA V PD, a broad-spectrum fungicide dust Read More
Trending Articles
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Crop InputsReport: Bayer Eyeing Monsanto For Possible Mega-Merger
May 16, 2016
Bayer AG is exploring a potential bid for U.S. competitor Monsanto Co. in a deal that would create the world’s Read More
Aerial Drone
Precision AgA Deeper Dive Into The Future Of Precision Ag
May 9, 2016
For about two decades now, through the good and the bad times, the ups and the downs inherent in agriculture, Read More
Palmer amaranth in soybean stubble
HerbicidesWSSA: Billions In Potential Economic Losses From Uncontrolled Weeds
May 4, 2016
What losses would corn and soybean growers experience if they were forced to eliminate herbicides and other control techniques from Read More
Eric SfiligojReasons For Hope In Commodity Prices
May 2, 2016
For many months now, the doomsayers have ruled the day in agriculture. Too much supply with too little demand would Read More
Latest News
Industry NewsJ.R. Simplot Names New Wholesale Agriculture Sales Vice…
May 31, 2016
Doug Stone will be joining the J. R. Simplot Co. as vice president, Wholesale Agricultural Sales within the Simplot AgriBusiness Read More
Adjuvants loading
AdjuvantsISAA 2016 Highlights Adjuvant Trends
May 31, 2016
Adjuvants can significantly improve the performance of crop protection products. Farmers and formulators enhance the efficacy of sprays by using Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Craig Houin Sunrise Cooperative iPad
Precision AgState Of Precision Ag 2016: Gut Check Time For Value
May 31, 2016
There’s no denying that precision technologies and practices are more vibrant than ever. Equipment manufacturers have fine-tuned the hardware for Read More
ManagementWashington Visit and Bayer/Monsanto Deal Update
May 26, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discusses a recent trip to DC and the latest news on the proposed pairing Read More
Fertilizer closeup in hand
Industry NewsVerdesian: Striking A Balance Between Yield & ROI
May 26, 2016
Finely tuned nutrient management plans are helping farmers throughout the U.S. improve nutrient use efficiency, increase return on investment (ROI) Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes Announces Minnesota Water Quality Pa…
May 25, 2016
Governor Mark Dayton and Land O’Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski today announced a new public-private partnership to protect Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsArysta LifeScience Establishes Global Headquarters In R…
May 25, 2016
Arysta LifeScience has announced plans to relocate its global headquarters from West Palm Beach, FL, to Cary, NC, over the Read More
fertilizer blending and storage, Top 100
BlendersCHS Dakota Expansion Features AGCO’s GSI InterSys…
May 25, 2016
The continued growth of precision agriculture has increased farmer use of customized fertilizer blends best-suited for their soil conditions. Several Read More
ManagementAgriculture 3.5: A Bumpy Road Ahead
May 24, 2016
You may have read my article a few years ago on Agriculture 3.0, which is a term I coined to Read More
Topcon’s X30 display with CropSpec sensors
EquipmentGPS Autosteer Systems: Product Updates From Precision A…
May 24, 2016
Throughout 2015 GPS Steering solutions continued to evolve from what was once an after-market add on, to today’s cab where Read More
Trimble TMX-2050 In-Cab Display
Eric SfiligojThe Precision Ag Revolution Continues
May 24, 2016
It’s funny how much “the first time” tends to mean to someone as they get older. I sometimes can’t recall Read More
Eric Wintemute, AMVAC
Precision AgAMVAC Ups The Ante With New Precision Ag Technology
May 24, 2016
A potentially industry-changing at-plant soil treatment system from American Vanguard Corp., or AMVAC, is coming soon to large growers in Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
CropLife 100CropLife 100 Map
May 24, 2016
The new CropLife 100 map shows the locations of each of the headquarters of the 2015 CropLife 100 retailers. The interactive Read More
Southern States Cooperative
Corn Field
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Names Veteran Account Manager To Lead Central…
May 23, 2016
With the continuing growth of the sulphur bentonite and precision crop nutrient industry, global agriculture firm H.J. Baker has announced that Read More
Bayer sign
Industry NewsReuters: Bayer Defies Critics With $62 Billion Monsanto…
May 23, 2016
German drugs and crop chemicals group Bayer has offered to buy U.S. seeds company Monsanto for $62 billion in cash, Read More