Demand grows in China for Kansas sorghum
Kansas, a major wheat producer, has seen increased demand from China for its sorghum crop.
Kansas typically grows more wheat than any other state and also grows the most milo in the nation. But until recently, none of the state's sorghum, also known as milo, has been exported to China.
China bought 80 percent of the U.S. crop last year, or 3 million metric tons, Kansas Grain Sorghum Director Pat Damman said. This year, China has contracted to buy more than 7 million metric tons, The Hutchinson News reported.
U.S. sorghum has gained leverage largely because, unlike corn, it isn't subject to a market tariff or quotas on how much Chinese companies can import. Sorghum, which is largely used to make fuel and fatten livestock, also doesn't require as much water as other crops.
"We're talking about three years ago this wasn't even in the equation," said Rob Hurley, an Iowa native who serves as the U.S. Grains Council's director of programs in Beijing. "There was zero" going to China, he said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that earlier this year planted milo acres would reach 7.9 million in 2015, up 11 percent from the previous season. Kansas, which produces almost half the nation's sorghum, and Texas, the second largest producer, planted 2.85 million and 2.5 million acres respectively in 2014.
Sorghum acreage in Kansas is increasing by about 2 percent and in Texas by 20 percent.
In Kansas, the boost in sales has pushed the price of sorghum above corn, Damman said.
"We went from 40 cents under the price of corn to more than $1 above the price of corn," he said.