Diverse Market Opportunities Make Sorghum the Smart Choice for Nebraska Grower


By Kayla Wilkins, Communications Intern

Demand has been high for Mike Baker’s grain sorghum this year.

“I can't say I've ever had three different brokerage firms call me trying to buy milo right off the combine,” said Baker, who grows grain sorghum near Trenton, Neb.  ”For the first time, the basis at local elevators is higher than many other crops.”

Baker said he’s not the only grower who has been contacted by end users wanting to buy grain sorghum directly off the turn row. This has become more prevalent among producers because of the increasing demand.

The positive grain sorghum basis many growers are witnessing goes hand in hand with the rising demand for the crop domestically and internationally. Higher demand has been triggered from different niche markets, stimulation by the Sorghum Checkoff, and the need for a stress tolerant, consistent crop in many areas.

“I like to plant sorghum because it serves as my insurance factor,” Baker said. “I can depend on grain sorghum to give me bushels to live off of and market.”

Baker said sorghum is a great option for both producers and consumers. He has found success in marketing sorghum by simply making connections with end users and locating demand. The human food market continues to drive positive demand for grain sorghum.

Baker serves as a member of the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board, and said the organization is trying to emphasize the human consumption side of the industry. As a naturally gluten-free grain, sorghum provides a number of benefits to consumers.

“An increase in celiac disease awareness and the need for gluten-free diets makes sorghum the perfect fit,” Baker said.

The gluten-free market is not the only focus for Baker. Diverse market opportunities with ethanol production, livestock feed, and international exports continue to create demand for his sorghum.

“The promotion of sorghum on an international scale has been excellent recently,” Baker said. “The Sorghum Checkoff is showing the consumer the benefits of feeding and consuming grain sorghum.”

Baker is utilizing social media to promote sorghum to producers and consumers alike. He said Twitter is the perfect way for him to meet producers across the nation and share the sorghum story with the world.

“I am proud of what I do as a farmer, and I put it out there for everyone to see,” Baker said. “Twitter has given me the ability to communicate with lots of people from all over.”

Baker is a big believer in grain sorghum. He said the future for sorghum is bright and all producers can take advantage of that.

“My advice for new farmers is if you treat sorghum like a second rate crop you are going to get second rate results,” Baker said. “Just give it your full attention and you'll be very pleased with the results.”