February 4, 2011

Grain Sorghum Acreage Increasing in Bahia

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The strong international corn prices are also elevating the prices paid for sorghum and as a result, farmers in the state of Bahia decided to increase their 2010/11sorghum acreage. Sorghum is valued at 75% that of corn in feed rations, but it is preferred to corn in areas that are too dry for non-irrigated corn production. Sorghum also has the amazing capability to go dormant during periods of moisture stress only to resume growing later if moisture becomes available.

Farmers in western Bahia have greatly increased their cultivation of soybeans, cotton, and corn in recent years, but as you move east in the state, the climate becomes too dry for non-irrigated crop production and that is the preferred environment for sorghum production.

According to Conab, the sorghum acreage in the state of Bahia increased 153% in 2010/11 to 240,000 hectares. Conab is also estimating that the yields in 2010/11 will be 50% superior to 2009/10 at 1.691 kg/ha resulting in a total production estimated at 407,000 tons, which would be 280% greater than the what was produced in 2009/10 crop.

The sorghum crop in Bahia is grown mainly as a full season crop, but there is a small amount of sorghum grown in western Bahia as a second crop planted after the early maturing soybeans are harvested.

In the state of Bahia, sorghum is planted mainly as a full season crop whereas in many parts of the country it is planted as a second crop after soybeans are harvested. Conab is estimating that in all of Brazil 850,000 hectares of sorghum will be planted in 2010/11, which is 21% more than last growing season. The average sorghum yield nationwide is estimated at 2,303 kg/ha for a total production of 1.95 million tons.

Sorghum prices accompany corn prices, but they only started to increase in July after many farmers in the state had already made their plans for the 2010/11 growing season. Currently a sack of corn in western Bahia is selling for R$ 30 compared to R$ 18.26 in 2010 and R$ 16.33 in 2009.