Demand Continues to Grow in Delta, Mid-South Regions

The Sorghum Belt is often referenced as the hub of sorghum production and is considered the region from South Texas north to South Dakota. This region typically sees the highest numbers in sorghum production and harvested acres, but the demand for sorghum covers more than just this belt. Consistent growth is being generated in regions outside of the typical Sorghum Belt, particularly in the Delta and Mid-South regions where non-traditional markets such as bird seed and pet food are making waves for sorghum producers and creating new demand for this versatile crop.

The region covering Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama all the way up to Ohio, Indiana and Illinois is an emerging production and market region for sorghum. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the region planted nearly 260,000 acres in 2016, and production is only expected to increase as demand from local businesses grows. Sorghum Checkoff Regional Director Brent Crafton covers this expansive area and continues to see the need for more sorghum.

“I visit with grain buyers across all these states and am constantly told about their demand for sorghum and their difficulty sourcing it,” Crafton said. “Whether it be for pet food, bird seed or even poultry, sorghum is a grain in demand for many states in the Delta and Mid-South as evidenced by local basis.”

Consolidated Grain and Barge Company is one of many businesses on the search for sorghum grain. Trader Doug Chumbler covers the region of southern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and northern Kentucky where he works to source sorghum for regional customers or international markets. Basis for sorghum in this region is higher than for other grains like corn, and even higher than other sorghum-producing regions in the U.S., due to the increase in market demand from pet food industries.

“We supply sorghum for pet food pretty much year round,” Chumbler said. “Whether we bring it down from Chicago or up by barge, we do what we need to in order to meet the demand when we are shorter on supply. We are able to rail it in or get it in by barge depending on where the supply is.”

Chumbler said the demand for sorghum over the years has stayed pretty consistent, the only thing changing is the supply. Craig Byrd also sees a constant demand for sorghum in his role as a buyer for Peco Foods spanning across Mississippi and Alabama. Peco Foods sources sorghum and other grains in the area for use in support of live operations for broilers.

“We usually buy all the sorghum we can near us and are constantly looking for more as we buy near 20,000-30,000 bushels a year,” Byrd said. “There is definitely a demand for sorghum here, and we would love to see more grown so we can work directly with producers and remain a producer-friendly operation.”

Sorghum is a crop of choice for businesses in the Delta and Mid-South region who are seeking the grain’s nutritional benefits and processing qualities. Sorghum is a truly versatile grain as evidenced in its use in industries from pet food to livestock feed and consumer food to ethanol. The Sorghum Checkoff is committed to pursuing new markets for sorghum producers and creating increased demand across the entire U.S., not just the traditional Sorghum Belt.

Producers are encouraged to seek out market opportunities in their region, whether in popular sorghum-growing areas or in lesser-known production areas, such as the Delta or Mid-South, as sorghum continues to be a smart choice with increasing demand.

“If you are a sorghum producer considering your market options, contact the Sorghum Checkoff to find out what opportunities are in your region,” Crafton said. “Our job is to find market opportunities for all sorghum producers across the U.S., and we are here to answer any question you have.”

If you have questions or want more information on market opportunities in the Delta and Mid-South regions, contact Brent Crafton at