The push to order sorghum seed early this year is not a salesman’s scare tactic, McDowell said.
“This is a realistic situation, and I think most people understand that in light of the challenges faced with the drought this year,” he said.
McDowell said even though some growers are aware the sorghum seed shortage is real this year, some growers will still wait until the last minute before planting time to purchase their seed.
"The production risk factor we build in every year is put in place to work through unanticipated fluctuations in demand and environmental challenges such as drought."
“As the old saying goes, the day a farmer gets ready to plant sorghum, he’s already got the planter hooked up to the tractor idling on the turn-row. Then, he runs into town to buy his seed.”
On the other hand, Rowdy Smith, senior marketing manager for Pioneer Hi-Bred’s western region, expects the sorghum seed supply to be suffi cient despite this year’s harsh growing conditions.
“Pioneer’s sorghum supply is estimated to meet or exceed customer demand, “ he said. “The production risk factor we build in every year is put in place to work through unanticipated fl uctuations in demand and environmental challenges such as drought.”
Sorghum is still the best choice
McDowell said the sorghum seed industry has never faced a seed shortage.
“Some companies are 50-60 percent down in production from what they started out to produce, and some were much luckier than that,” said McDowell. “Companies will clean everything out of the barn this time and sell every bag they have.”
At this point, McDowell said the biggest concern will be how much capitol it will take for companies to produce next year’s seed crop. Most prices are based on corn futures and will compete with corn prices, creating a large capital investment for companies next year.
SORGHUM Grower Fall 2011
McDowell said this year’s seed crop was not only more expensive to produce than the last but production was also lower, leading him to believe sorghum seed prices will rise this year.
“Based on supply and demand, I would say seed prices for this coming year will be quite a bit higher,” he said.
“But when you compare the cost of cott on and corn seed to sorghum, your return on investment for sorghum is still a whole lot bett er than cott on, corn or soybeans.”
In comparison to other seed prices, McDowell said sorghum is still more economically feasible consider- ing its water saving advantages. Plus, there is a greater likelihood of producing a successful crop in the case of another dry year.
“Growers should not abandon sorghum because it has to do with water,” said McDowell. “If we’re looking at more years with drought and a guy has limited irriga- tion already, a crop like sorghum makes sense because it doesn’t use near as much water.”
McDowell added no one could have predicted extreme lack of rainfall and all the other challenges faced with this year’s drought, but the industry will be bett er for it and will take the time to do the small things in prepa- ration for future disasters.
National Sorghum Producers encourages sorghum growers to contact their seed representatives soon to ensure you get your hybrid of choice in times of tight seed supplies.
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