Miracle sorghum crop is over the line

Late sorghum coming into head for harvest in six weeks


Cropping
Howard Brown, Longview, Clifton, with his neighbour Roger Blanch, inspecting his late sorghum plant which will be harvested in six weeks.   Picture: Helen Walker

Howard Brown, Longview, Clifton, with his neighbour Roger Blanch, inspecting his late sorghum plant which will be harvested in six weeks. Picture: Helen Walker

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Sorghum to be stored on-farm until price increases.

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Clifton district farmer Howard Brown, Longview, believes it is a miracle he got his late-planted sorghum crop over the line. 

Mr Brown planted 160 hectares of Pacific Seeds MR-Buster sorghum on Boxing Day last year after receiving 110 millimetres of rain. 

Despite having no in-crop rain until a week ago when 42mm fell it will be ready to harvest in six weeks. 

"We really had rain at the wrong end of the growing season," he said.

Mr Brown said his country normally would yield between five to seven tonnes to the hectare in a normal season, but due to tougher growing conditions he was expecting it to yield 4 tonne/ha.

Once harvested it will be graded and stored on-farm until the price of sorghum increases.

"I am looking for $350 to $360/tonne and normally sell to Emerald Grain, or Norco," he said.

Mr Brown said he planted at a rate of 65,000 seeds to the hectare and the crop established at 60,000 seeds/ha.

"It is a very good establishment for the season and the growing conditions," he said. 

"We prepared the cultivated ground and applied 80 units of Big N anhydrous ammonia, to eradicate Fleabane.

"As the crop was so stressed we decided not to apply any further in-crop applications."

Due to the prolonged dry on the Darling Downs this season's sorghum is the first planting since the previous summer. 

Mr Brown has lived in the Clifton district all his life and has been farming for the past 30 years but said it was the driest he had ever seen it.

"Before I look at a winter planting I will need to get between 150 to 200mm of rain to give me enough subsoil moisture," he said. 

Mr Brown still has his wheat and barley seed, which was bought last winter but it was too dry to plant.

He also runs 40 Charolais/Angus-cross cows on Longview, which are joined to an Angus bull.

He weans the progeny at eight months and sells them at 12 months of age through the Warwick Saleyards.  

"I usually grow forage sorghum for them but it has been too dry to plant it," Mr Brown said.

Grading time: Howard Brown and his neighbour Roger Blanch have began grading from his first sorghum crop which was harvested on March 13. Picture: Helen Walker

Grading time: Howard Brown and his neighbour Roger Blanch have began grading from his first sorghum crop which was harvested on March 13. Picture: Helen Walker

Sorghum to be stored on-farm

Clifton farmer, Howard Brown, kicked off planting with 90 hectares of Pacific Seeds MR-Buster sorghum in October.

He took a punt and planted on the back of 148 millimetres of rain.

Mr Bown said the crop was lucky enough to receive 110mm of rain during the growing season.

He harvested the crop of sorghum on March 13, and it averaged 3.49tonne/hectare.

Mr Brown is in the process of grading and screening his sorghum to raise the quality from graded sorghum two to sorghum one.

Once graded as sorghum one, he will store in on-farm silos waiting for the price to rise to $350 to $360/tonne.

In the past Mr Brown has sold his crop to the Chinese market, where the sorghum was used to make the traditional Chinese liquor called Drunkard.

Drunkard is a clear distilled liquor made from spring water, sorghum, glutinous rice, and wheat.

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