NSP Holds Annual Sorghum General Session at Commodity Classic

Producers, end-users and industry partners heard from a variety of speakers Thursday during the 2013 Sorghum General Session at Commodity Classic in Kissimmee, Fla.

With his opening remarks, NSP Chairman Terry Swanson highlighted some of the sorghum industry’s accomplishments in 2012, as well what’s next for the crop in 2013.

“The core of what NSP is doing is working to make your operation more profitable, both in the short-term and the long-term,” Swanson said.

Swanson also discussed NSP’s work on achieving a pathway for grain sorghum as an advanced biofuel, improvements made to crop insurance price elections, and NSP’s work to expand the sorghum silage pilot program to 59 counties in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. (View Swanson’s presentation here)

Western Plains Energy CEO Steve McNinch talked about how his company became the first ethanol plant approved to produce advanced biofuel from grain sorghum and touched on what lies ahead for renewable fuels. Western Plains Energy currently produces 50 million gallons of ethanol, and believes sorghum will be a key player in the industry.

Chromatin Inc. CEO Daphne Preuss discussed new and future developments in sorghum research and commercial marketing, touting sorghum as both a renewable fuels option and a water-sipping alternative crop.

“There’s not enough water in the world to sustain all the growth that we’re anticipating in the coming years,” Preuss said. “So the industry has to begin shifting to crops that are more water efficient, like sorghum.”

Preuss described sorghum as a versatile crop, suggesting the plant’s natural traits and characteristics make it an attractive option in a variety of markets.

“As a research and breeding company,” Preuss said, “sorghum’s inherent traits allow us to maximize resources for maximum benefit.”

USCP Chairman Stewart Weaver highlighted many of the Sorghum Checkoff’s recent accomplishments and newly implemented efforts, including the Sorghum U and Leadership Sorghum programs.

A sorghum marketing panel sponsored by the Sorghum Checkoff focused on the increasing sorghum acres in North Carolina that are largely due to marketing opportunities created by swine feeder Murphy-Brown. The panel, made up of Terry Coffey with Murphy-Brown LLC, Mike Karst with Entira, and sorghum producer Charles Rose, discussed how sorghum has become an attractive option to both growers and end-users in the Mid-Atlantic region.

After what he calls “an extremely good year” in 2012, Rose said he is confident in the crop’s ability to produce good yields, and in end-user Murphy-Brown to continue its market development efforts.

“Doubling my sorghum acres is what excites me the most about this year,” Rose said. “Murphy-Brown has made a positive impact by creating demand for grain sorghum in eastern North Carolina.”