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Published May 14, 2012, 09:32 AM

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Sorghum seed in short supply

By: Agweek wire reports, Agweek

Sorghum seed in short supply

• BROOKINGS, S.D. — South Dakota livestock and crop producers interested in planting sorghum and other annual warm season grasses this spring may face supply shortages, says Justin Fruechte, forage and cover crop specialist for Millborn Seeds in Brookings, S.D. “More than 90 percent of all sorghum seed is grown in the Texas Panhandle. Seed supplies are down by approximately 60 percent due to severe drought conditions the area faced during the 2011 growing season,” says Fruechte, who works with livestock producers to improve their forage acres and increase their grazing season. Demand for sorghum has increased in recent years because of many factors, Fruechte says. “Many growers are starting to double crop. Warm season annuals work well to plant after oats, hay or barley,” Fruechte says. Growers won’t be disappointed with yields, says Jarrod Cook, a sales representative with Richardson Seeds, a supplier of sorghum seed. “Today’s sorghum hybrids are not what they were even five years ago. They are more drought tolerant, more salt tolerant and more palatable than ever,” Cook says. The Texas seed company has spent almost 60 years improving the hybrids of sorghum Sudangrass, forage sorghums, grain sorghum and pearl millet through genetic selection in its in-house lab. Cook says the Brown Mid-Rib (BMR) sorghum was bred to only contain a small amount of lignin. Because lignin is not digestible, the BMR sorghum is an extremely palatable forage option for livestock producers.

USDA and KEM Electric help expand farm equipment dealership

• ASHLEY, N.D. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development selected KEM Electric Cooperative Inc. to receive a $740,000 loan through the Rural Economic Development Loan program. KEM Electric will use the financing to provide a loan to LaMoure (N.D.) Equipment Inc. d/b/a Green Iron Equipment to construct a new building for its farm equipment dealership in Ashley, N.D. “This financing will help support our agriculture industry and lead to business development,” says Jasper Schneider, state director at USDA Rural Development. “This is a good example of a public and private partnership promoting economic growth and job creation.” The project will construct a new building east of Ashley. Currently, Green Iron Equipment operates out of four structures with two of those buildings being small service shops that cannot accommodate large farm machinery. The new building will improve efficiency by keeping all areas of operation, sales, parts and service under one roof. With a growing customer base, the facility will allow the company adequate space and staff for improved and timely service. When the project is complete, seven new jobs will be created at the Ashley dealership. The total project cost is estimated at $1.1 million. Green Iron Equipment is an authorized John Deere dealership with six stores in North Dakota and South Dakota. The Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, which is administered by USDA Rural Development, provides funding to rural projects through local utility organizations. Under the program, USDA provides zero-interest loans to local utilities which they, in turn, pass through to local businesses for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas. Information: rurdev.usda.gov/nd.

Briefly . . .

• Minn. drought breaks: The drought is officially over for nearly all of Minnesota. The new map from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that only about 10 percent of Minnesota remains in drought. Three months ago, 96 percent of the state was in a moderate to severe drought. The remaining pockets of drought include part of the North Shore, some of northwestern Minnesota along the Canadian border and part of south-central Minnesota. Climatologist Greg Spoden says the data show the drought has broken. He says the recent heavy rain has recharged dry soils, which will be good for agriculture. He says the state needs continued above-average precipitation to catch up.

• S.D. winter wheat: South Dakota’s winter wheat crop is expected to be 14 percent smaller than last year’s. The Agriculture Department pegs the South Dakota crop at 57.2 million bushels. Yield is forecast to be up slightly but harvested acres are expected to be down by nearly one-fifth. Winter wheat production nationwide is forecast at just under 1.7 billion bushels, up 13 percent from 2011.

• N.D. winter wheat: North Dakota winter wheat farmers expect to produce 34.6 million bushels this year, 1½ times more than last year. The Agriculture Department forecasts both yield and harvested acres to be up significantly over the year. An increase in planted acres last fall likely is because of the large amount of cropland that was flooded in spring but dried out later in the year. Winter wheat production nationwide is forecast at about 1.7 billion bushels, up 13 percent from 2011.

• CWB cuts jobs: The Canadian Wheat Board is cutting hundreds of jobs as its monopoly comes to an end. The board says the number of employees will be down to 288 by the end of May and will be about 100 by the end of the year. Board spokeswoman Maureen Fitzhenry says last year, there were 430 people on the payroll, mainly in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Since the 1940s, western wheat and barley farmers had no choice but to sell through the board. The federal government passed a law to strip the board of its monopoly and open the market as of summer. Fitzhenry says some of the employees being let go are finding work with other grain handling companies or other jobs.

• N.D. sunflowers: North Dakota sunflower farmers are poised to reclaim bragging rights as the nation’s top producers. Last year, wet weather and flooding led to a drop of hundreds of thousands of acres in North Dakota, and South Dakota surpassed its northern neighbor as the leading sunflower state for the first time in recorded history. The Agriculture Department projects sunflower acres to rebound about 31 percent in North Dakota this year, to 760,000. South Dakota’s acreage is pegged at 540,000, also up from last year but only by about 11 percent.

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