GRAIN SORGHUM

In the dryland farming areas grain sorghum is the most important summer grain. Not all crops are grow to maturity and the expected yields are unpredictable largely because of the unpredictability of the summer rains in NSW. It provides excellent fodder and being fed to stock in dry seasons. Sorghum growing has shown a dramatic increase in the recent years and after wheat and barley, is the most important crop in the dryland belt.

The grain is used in feed mixes for poultry, pigs and cattle. The genetics of grain sorghum has changed dramatically and almost all seed sown is from hybrids.The sorghums are summer growing crops which are used in a number of ways: grain sorghum for grain; sweet or fodder sorghum, Sudan grass and, more recently, Columbus grass for silage, green feed and grazing; and broom millet for brooms and brushware. However, the grain is used primarily as stockfeed and is an important source for supplementing other coarse grains for this purpose.

Grain sorghum has been grown extensively only in the last two decades, with Queensland producing around 62% of the harvest (TABLE 6). Grain sorghum is the third biggest cereal crop (in terms of production) in Australia despite it only being grown in significant quantities in Queensland and New South Wales.


GRAIN SORGHUM, AREA AND PRODUCTION

----------------------
AREA ('000 ha.)
---------------------
YEAR
NSW
VIC
QLD
SA
WA
TAS
AUST(A)
1994-95
161
6
519
(b) -
(b)
687
1995-96
171
2
597
(b)
-
(b)
770
1996-97
117 1
424
-
1
(b)
544
1997-98
123
3
379
-
1
(b)
507
1998-99
216
**
367
-
*2
(b)
587
1999-2000
200
*1
419
(b) *2 (b) 622

---------------------
PRODUCTION ('000 t)
---------------------------

YEAR NSW VIC QLD SA WA TAS AUST(A)
1994-95
347
8
916
(b)
2
(b) 1,273
1995-96
472
4
1,116
(b)
0
(b)
1,592
1996-97
417
3
1,003 -
2
(b)
1,425
1997-98
382
6
691 -
2
(b)
1,081
1998-99
822
**
1,059
-
*6
(b)
1,891
1999-2000
804
** 1,308
(b)
*2
(b)
2,116

(a) Includes the Northern Territory.
(b) Not collected.
Source: Agricultural Commodities, Australia (7121.0).