“Yield is not as good as (conventional) grain sorghum,” Schur says. “It is a shorter season hybrid. But the market is different. Food-grade sorghum is a higher value product and we get a premium.”

He grows Onyx on contract for use in cereal and the other products.  “I sell 100 percent of my Onyx sorghum to Grain Berry,” he says.

Last year was his first experience with the black-seeded sorghum. “I will grow more this year. I just got the seed delivered.”

Production practices are no different from the other sorghum he grows and rotates with cotton. He follows the same weed and insect control strategies, using herbicides and insecticides judiciously. “We’re using a lot fewer chemicals today than we were ten or 20 years ago. I think we do things better than we used to. We are more conscientious about what we do and it makes economic sense. We follow the label.”

Schur said he’s careful with harvest of the food-grade sorghum, but he’s also careful with the seed sorghum he grows. “We’re geared up to take precautions at harvest,” he said. “We want to assure a quality product (seed or food grade), so we have to be careful at harvest.”

All of his Onyx sorghum will be irrigated. “I planted in early June last year and will probably do that again. It’s a fast-growing hybrid.”

Lindsay West, External Affairs Director and editor of the Sorghum Grower Magazine for the National Sorghum Producers, says the industry could witness a growth in grain sorghum production for the food industry. “We see more consumer interest in buying whole grains and there are health advantages.”

She said a Texas A&M research scientist said the anti-oxidant characteristics offer several benefits, including reduced cancer risk as well as effects on several digestive ailments.

In other reports, Rooney has indicated that Onyx “would be suitable for the cereal market. You could grind this and turn it into flour for food use. You could also take the bran to concentrate the antioxidants in this form; there are a lot of potential applications for this.”

When should you plant grain sorghum?

Schur says food-grade grain sorghum fits well into his grain/cotton rotation. He likes to have grain in the mix to provide residue and improve soil health. He says the old-crop grain residue holds moisture, adds organic matter to the soil and prevents soil from blowing with winter and springtime wind storms.

It’s also a good deal with available contracts and to see the product in a nearby grocery store.


Also of interest:

Sugarcane aphid threatens Texas grain sorghum

Peanut disease control begins with field history and rotation,

Rotation, variety selection, timeliness are critical for SW high cotton…