VII. U.S. SORGHUM EXPORT SYSTEM
This U.S. Grains Council’s 2015/2016 Sorghum Harvest & Export Cargo Quality Report provides advance information about sorghum quality by evaluating and reporting quality attributes when the sorghum is ready to be loaded onto the vessel or railcar for export. Sorghum quality includes a range of attributes that can be categorized as:
- Intrinsic quality characteristics – Protein, oil, starch and tannin content, hardness and density are all considered to be intrinsic quality characteristics; that is, they are contained within and of critical importance to the end user. Since they are non-visual, these characteristics can only be determined by analytical tests.
- Physical quality characteristics – These attributes are associated with outwardly visible appearance of the kernel or measurement of the kernel characteristics. Characteristics include kernel size, shape and color, moisture, test weight, total damaged and heat-damaged kernels, and broken kernels. Some of these characteristics are measured when sorghum receives an offcial USDA grade.
- Sanitary quality characteristics – These characteristics indicate the cleanliness of the grain. Attributes include presence of foreign material, odor, dust, rodent excreta, insects, residues, fungal infection, and non-millable materials.
The intrinsic quality characteristics are impacted signifcantly by genetics and growing-season conditions, and typically do not change at the aggregate level as sorghum moves through the marketing system. On the other hand, the physical and sanitary characteristics can change as sorghum moves through the market channel. The parties involved in sorghum marketing and distribution use technologies (such as cleaning, drying, and conditioning) at each step in the channel to increase uniformity and to prevent or minimize the loss of physical and sanitary quality. The 2015/2016 Harvest Survey portion of the report assessed the quality of the 2015 sorghum crop as it entered the marketing system and reported the crop as very good, with no incidences of aflatoxins and DON. The 2015/2016 Export Survey portion of the report provides information on the impact of the subsequent practices, including cleaning, drying, handling, blending, storing, and transporting of the crop at the point where it is being loaded for export. To provide the backdrop for this assessment, the following sections describe the market channel from farm to export, the practices applied to sorghum as it moves through the market channel, and the implication of these practices on sorghum quality. Lastly, the inspection and grading services provided by the U.S. government are reviewed.