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March 25, 2021

Grain Sorghum could be Alternative to Safrinha Corn

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

Brazilian farmers in the state of Mato Grosso usually plant a second crop of corn or cotton after they harvest their first crop of soybeans, but 2020/21 has not been a usual growing season. The Brazilian soybeans were planted later than normal due to dry weather and then heavy rains at harvest time delayed the soybean harvest even more to the extent that this has been the slowest soybean harvest in ten years.

The delayed soybean harvest has pushed back the planting of a second crop of corn past the ideal planting window, which closed about the third week of February. As a result, this has forced some farmers to look for alternatives to corn for their second crop such as grain sorghum or forage grasses.

Grain sorghum could be an alternative to late planted corn because it is more tolerant to dry conditions, which will occur with the onset of the annual dry season. That would allow grain sorghum to be planted later than corn.

The price paid for grain sorghum is tied directly to the price of corn since it is the main substitute for corn in animal rations. Therefore, if the price for corn is good, so too will be the price for sorghum. Currently, the demand for corn is very strong due to very tight supplies, which in turn, translates to a strong demand for grain sorghum as well.

Forage grasses and legumes as a substitute for late planted corn can also offer advantages such as increasing the organic matter in the soil, better control of nematodes, reduced soil compaction, better nutrient circulation, and improved soil structure. All of these factors could improve the yields of the next soybean crop. If a legume is used instead of a grass, the added nitrogen incorporated into the soil by the legume would be very beneficial.