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“While grain sorghum in our area is typically used for a backup crop, especially in diffi cult planting years, the per- ception is changing,” Bond says. “Grain sorghum is a vi- able crop that helps the producer spread their risk with planting as well as harvesting.”

Like with the Scates’ operation, Bond says rotation should be a cornerstone to any operation.

“I like to see producers use a third and forth crop because of pathogen pressure.”

In fact, Bond believes there could be hidden potential in having grain sorghum in a rotation because of its non- host qualities.

By using effi cient and prop- er management practices, the southern Illinois op- eration has had success with what is traditionally known as a western crop.

adjusting the amount of fertilizer they apply to the crop as well as increasing the seed population. While not all of their ground is under pivot, the operation has 80 pivots and more than 9,500 acres of irrigated land. However, they have not only reserved irrigation for their corn and soybeans. In fact, their 2010 NSP Yield and Management Contest entry pro- duced a bin busting 186.4 bushels per acre on irrigated land. Their non-irrigated land produced 171.22 bushels per acre.

A family eff ort

“Even with increasing our input costs, milo is still a very profi table crop for our operation.”

“Our resources from the universities and Pioneer have gone above and beyond to help us increase our yields,” says John. “Through the course of the last few years, we have improved our herbicide program and really loaded it up front to combat weed resistance.”

A pivot al crop

“Even with increasing our input costs, milo is still a very profi table crop for our operation,” he says. The Scates are

While the family continues to improve their production practices to increase yields, markets in their area have been favorable. According to John, their location on the Ohio River allows them to sell direct to Cargill and Consolidated Grain and Barge Co.

“Last year I was fortu- nate to be able to meet

other national yield contest winners at Commodity Clas- sic,” John says. “And I took that opportunity to learn how they were increasing their yields. This helped us formulate ideas on how to improve our production and bott om line.”

While the Scates Family Farm has had success with Pio- neer’s 84G62, they are planning to try a couple new Pioneer hybrids this planting season. Also, John said they are go- ing to plant a portion of their grain sorghum crop in 15- inch split rows while also pushing their seed population up about 10 to 20 percent to try and achieve bigger grain heads.

He also mentioned their success with the crop has even has motivated a handful of their neighbors to stop by for advice on planting grain sorghum.

John notes that although each person at the farm has distinct farm and business roles, all of their decisions are made together.

“This is a family business and we try to incor- porate everyone’s expertise to make the best decisions for the operation,” he says.

Overall, grain sorghum fi ts well with what the Scates are trying to accomplish

The Scates family was well represented during NSP’s annual Yield and Management Contest Dinner at Commodity Classic, March 4, 2011.


“It is not only profi table but it also allows us to bet- ter manage our risk,” says John. “Participating in the yield contest and seeing what we can do with this crop has motivated us to try new things to increase our yields and our bott om line.”

SORGHUM Grower Spring 2011

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