Sorghum is in high demand by China, and imports of U.S. sorghum to China increased 15-fold in the past year, pushing its price above corn in some parts of the U.S.
Sorghum is a drought-hardy crop also known as milo that is grown in the Great Plains. According to a report, some Kansas grain elevators are offering farmers 10 percent more for sorghum than for corn.
Because there is no futures market for sorghum, traders use corn futures to benchmark prices and manage risk.
In the first 11 months of 2014, shipments of U.S. sorghum to China jumped 5.7 million metric tons, with a value of $1.3 billion, from about 362,000 tons a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The USDA estimates that the U.S. produced 433 million bushels of sorghum last year, up from 392 million bushels the previous year. That’s compared with 14.2 billion bushels of corn produced in 2014.
Chinese companies use sorghum in feed for pigs, chickens and ducks because it costs less for them to import it than to buy corn produced in China.
Analysts expect the higher demand and prices for sorghum to encourage U.S. growers to plant more of it. Sorghum requires less water than corn does, and seed costs are lower.
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