But the crop still fared well enough that some farmers in Southern Illinois may consider planting more next year, particularly on lighter soils that remain stressed from the drought.
“It’s a water-sipping crop, so we plant it on the most stressed soils we’ve got,” said Chad Broster, a farmer from Mount Carmel (Wabash County).
Grain sorghum, also known as milo, usually yields between 100 and 120 bushels per acre on the Broster family farm.
This year he expects about half of that, which still will be much better than corn on Broster’s farm. His corn crop this year averaged between 25 and 30 bushels per acre, except one field that made 140 bushels.
“Some of it didn’t start heading until it started raining,” Broster said. “It went 63 days without rain.”
Broster and his wife, Ashlie, winners of this year’s Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Achievement Award, grew less than 100 acres of milo this season.
But that could increase next year.
“We’ll probably plant a couple hundred acres next year,” Broster said. “Places where the drought could linger next year we’ll plant beans or milo.”
Broster recently was contacted by three different elevator managers who are interested in buying his grain sorghum crop. The price as of last week was around $7.30 per bushel.
The Broster’s milo crop probably won’t be ready for harvest until about Nov. 1.
Statewide, 38 percent of the sorghum crop was harvested as of last week, which is the same as last year and the five-year average.
Last week, 94 percent of the sorghum crop in Illinois was mature compared to the average of 80 percent.
Grain sorghum involves much lower input costs to grow than corn, but weed control is a challenge because there are no biotech varieties of sorghum. Broster harvests milo with his bean head set at a height very similar to when he cuts wheat.
Illinois farmers this year planted 25,000 acres of grain sorghum, up 5,000 acres from 2011.
Check out this week's harvest conditions with Cropwatchers