U.S. Sorghum Production, Usage and Outlook
A. U.S. Sorghum Production
U.S. Average Production and Yields
According to the November 2016 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, average U.S. sorghum yield for the 2016 crop is projected to be 4.80 mt/ha (76.5 bu/ac). This is 0.03 mt/ha (0.5 bu/ac) higher than the average yield of the 2015 sorghum crop, and is the highest average yield on record.
The number of hectares harvested in 2016 is projected to be 2.4 million (6.0 mil ac). This is 0.8 mil ha (1.9 mil ac) less than in 2015. The projected 2.4 mil ha harvested in 2016 is about the same as the average annual harvested acres since 2003.
While it is projected to have the highest average yield in history, declines in harvested acres lowers the expected size of the 2016 sorghum crop to 11.7 mmt (462.2 mil bu). This is about 3.5 mmt (134.6 mil bu) lower than 2015, but is the sixth highest since 2000.
ASD and State-Level Production
The geographic areas included in the 2016/2017 Sorghum Harvest Quality Report encompass the highest sorghum-producing areas in the United States for the 2016 crop. This can be seen on the map showing projected 2016 sorghum production by USDA Agricultural Statistical District (ASD).
Relative to the sorghum crop produced in 2015, the decreased size of the 2016 crop was driven by lower production in all key sorghum-producing states. The U.S. Sorghum Production table summarizes the differences in both quantity (mmt) and percentages between 2015 and projected 2016 sorghum production for each state. Also included is an indication of the relative changes in harvested acres and yield between 2015 and projected 2016. The green bar indicates a relative increase and the red bar indicates a relative decrease from 2015 to projected 2016. This illustrates that yields marginally increased and harvested acres were slightly lower to lower in ten states. In fact, large decreases in harvested acres (greater than 10%) were experienced in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.
B. U.S. Sorghum Use and Ending Stocks
As a result of Chinese demand, the U.S. exported approximately 8.9 mmt (351.7 mil bu) of sorghum in the 2014/2015 marketing year (MY14/15). This record amount represented more than 80% of the total U.S. sorghum crop. This demand created higher sorghum prices relative to corn prices in many parts of the United States, which in turn led to reduced domestic consumption of sorghum for feed and ethanol usage (reported under “food, seed and industrial use”). While China remained the dominant destination for U.S, sorghum exports worldwide, China’s demand for sorghum softened in MY15/16.
The amount of sorghum used for food, seed and industrial uses dramatically increased from MY14/15 to MY15/16, because a large crop and reduced export demand in MY15/16 created a greater availability of sorghum for ethanol production.
Despite the surge in export demand for U.S. sorghum in MY14/15, domestic consumption of sorghum for feed and residual uses remained fairly constant over the past four completed marketing years.
Ending stocks of sorghum have been rebuilt after hitting their lowest level in 50 years in MY12/13. Tempered sorghum export demand and an ample supply of corn, the crop which is most often substituted with sorghum, have contributed to the rebuilding of sorghum stocks.
While the 2016 U.S. sorghum crop is projected to have the highest average yield on record, the forecasted 23.0% reduction in harvested hectares has led to an estimated 22.6% decrease in the size of the 2016 crop.
Due to the reduced size of the 2016 sorghum crop, both domestic consumption and exports are forecasted to be lower relative to MY15/16. However, the reduction in exports is anticipated to be proportionally greater than the reduction in domestic consumption.
Domestic use of sorghum is projected to be about 5.3 mmt (14.1%) lower in MY16/17 than in MY15/16. Use for food, seed, and industrial (FSI) uses are expected to be down 15.4% and feed and residual use down 12.5% in MY16/17 from MY15/16.
U.S. sorghum exports during MY16/17 are projected to be 6.5 mmt (26.2%) lower than MY15/16.
MY16/17 sorghum ending stocks are projected to be slightly higher than in MY15/16, primarily due to slightly less sorghum export demand and this year’s large corn crop, which is often substituted for sorghum.
Global sorghum production during MY16/17 is expected to be slightly higher than the production of MY 15/16. The largest increases in MY16/17 production from the previous year are expected in Ethiopia, India, Mexico, and Sudan. These four countries are estimated to represent 33.0% of world production in MY16/17.
Total non-U.S. exports are expected be slightly higher in MY16/17 than in MY15/16, with the largest increase in exports expected from Argentina. This increased volume in non-U.S. exports only represents 1.2% of global sorghum exports. Even after a forecasted decrease in U.S. exports and higher non-U.S. exports, the United States is still the principal supplier of sorghum exports and is forecasted to supply 73.6% of global sorghum exports in MY16/17.
Total global sorghum use is expected to increase slightly in MY16/17 from MY15/16.
While China is expected to remain the world’s largest sorghum consumer, it is projected to consume less sorghum in MY16/17 than in MY15/16.
The largest increases in consumption are expected to occur in Ethiopia, India, Mexico, and Sudan, the same four countries projected to have the highest increases in production. Ethiopia, India, and Sudan, which are not major sorghum exporters, utilize the majority of their sorghum crop for human consumption. Mexico, which is expected be the third largest importer of sorghum in MY16/17, utilizes sorghum primarily for feed use.
Year-over-year imports are expected to decrease globally in MY16/17 from MY15/16, with China responsible for the vast majority of the change.