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Not Just Corn: Other US Grain Crops Also Hurt by Hot, Dry Conditions

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Corn isn’t the only US crop suffering under hot and dry conditions in the Great Plains. Sorghum and millet, which are grown in areas currently hit by drought, look set to be hurt as well. 

Gro’s vegetative health index for sorghum planted areas, aggregated using Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture, is at one of its lowest levels in more than two decades. Index readings are comparable to those of 2011, when sorghum production plunged by 36% from a year earlier. 

In addition, soil moisture for acres planted to sorghum is close to the lowest level in at least a decade, while Gro’s Drought Index shows the crop is experiencing “moderate” levels of drought. The US is the world’s largest producer and exporter of sorghum. 

View a display of growing conditions in Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator, weighted for acres planted to sorghum, that include Gro’s vegetative health index and Gro Drought Index, along with soil moisture, temperature, and precipitation. And schedule a demo with our sales team to learn how Climate Risk Navigator can be tailored to your organization’s needs.

Sorghum’s difficulties come as Gro’s yield forecast model predicts one of the weakest US corn harvests in years due to poor weather conditions, as Gro wrote about here. While sorghum is more drought resistant than corn, the bulk of the crop is grown in Kansas and Texas, currently experiencing “moderate” and “severe” levels of drought, respectively, according to the Gro Drought Index. 

Hot and dry weather is battering the US sorghum and millet crops. This Gro Drought Index chart, as can be seen in the Gro Portal, shows drought readings for the two main sorghum growing states — Kansas (green line) and Texas (purple). Colorado (blue line) and Nebraska (red) grow the bulk of US millet.

For millet, signals from Gro’s vegetative health index are currently less severe than for sorghum. Index readings are comparable to those of 2008, when millet production dropped 12% year over year. Still, soil moisture levels have recently declined sharply for acres planted to millet, and Colorado and Nebraska, which together grow the bulk of US millet, are both experiencing “moderate” levels of drought, according to the Gro Drought Index. 

View a display of growing conditions weighted for acres planted to millet using Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator here

The US last year produced about 448 million bushels (9.4 million tonnes) of sorghum, some two-thirds of which was exported, mainly to China, and most of the rest used domestically for animal feed. Millet production of 15.4 million bushels last year went largely for animal feed and human consumption, with exports, mainly to Asia and Canada, representing about one-third of the total.  

View displays from the Gro Portal with data on production, yield, crop conditions, and exports for US sorghum and millet.  

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