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lake Tregellas grew his fi rst sorghum crop before he turned 10 years old—granted it

was in a garden in his parents’ yard.

“Our yard looked more like a fi eld,” said Rocky Tregellas, Blake’s dad and farming partner. “I bet it was some of the best irrigated milo in the county.”

Today, the 26-year-old is growing sor- ghum on a slightly larger scale.

Dryland sorghum has been a mainstay for Tregellas Family Farms since the early 1990s. Grown on 2,500 of the farm’s 8,600 total acres, sorghum rep- resents the ultimate risk management tool in an area that averages less than 20 inches of rainfall each year.

“Sorghum is the responsible crop for this region,” Blake said. “It’s consistent and reliable, and works really well in our wheat-sorghum-fallow rotation. It’s a large part of our operation.”

The Tregellas’ farm, located near the Texas Panhandle town of Perryton, is ap- proximately 95 percent dryland. The mul- tiple crop rotation helps balance their risk while bringing in a consistent income.

"Sorghum is the responsible crop for this region."

“Crop diversifi cation allows us to spread our risk while gett ing a second pay period, especially during a year like this when it just hasn’t rained.”

With sorghum, they can get more bang for their buck.

“We’ve tried sunfl owers and we’ve played with cott on,” he said. “I’ve had the discussion with some guys that you can make more per acre on cott on in a normal year, but you’ll make more per dollar on sorghum. You’ve got so much less invested in an acre of sorghum when you consider the needed inputs. You’re gett ing more return per dollar even if you don’t get more per acre. That’s why I prefer to grow sorghum.”

Overcoming a tough year

Like other farmers in the Southwest, the Tregellas family is dealing with the record sett ing drought that has cost Texas farmers and ranchers more than $5 billion. With only a litt le over six

inches of rainfall on their farm this year along with prolonged, record sett ing heat during the summer months, it is a wonder any crop could be alive and well in the northern Texas Panhandle.

“This won’t be our best sorghum crop by any means, but it has performed despite the drought,” Blake said. Last year, the Tregellas’ sorghum averaged right at 100 bushels per acre. This year, Blake said they have done more dust control than farming, yet, they expect sorghum yields to be in the mid 30s af- ter having to dust in most of their crop.

While Mother Nature has thrown them a curve ball this year, the Tregel- las’ strict rotation methods are likely to help them stay on track for next year, despite the dismal long term forecast of continued dry conditions.

“We’ll probably stick to our rotation in the upcoming planting season the way we originally planned,” Blake said.

(Above) Rocky and Blake Tregellas, along with their wives and business partners Janet and Sarah, each have their defi ned roles in the family farm. (Right) Blake shows how the residues in a fi eld of no-till sorghum stalks help maintain soil moisture even during drought.

SORGHUM Grower Fall 2011 21

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