In November 2015, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) released its first Sorghum Early Harvest Quality Report. This report showed that 92 percent of U.S. sorghum samples are rated at quality grade No. 2 or better.

This report is based on 50 commodity grain sorghum samples taken from defined areas within five of the top sorghum-producing and exporting states, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. Inbound samples were collected from local grain elevators to observe quality at the point of origin and to provide representative information about the variability of quality characteristics across the crop production area.

The sorghum samples were tested at the department of soil and crop sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, in accordance with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Federal Grain Inspection Service’s (FGIS) Grain Inspection Handbook.

Though the harvest quality report is valuable information to customers, sorghum quality will be affected by further handling. In January 2016, the USGC will publish a second report, the Sorghum Harvest and Export Cargo Quality Report, to assess the quality of U.S. sorghum during the final half of the 2015 sorghum harvest season and the quality of U.S. sorghum as it is assembled for export.


The two reports are intended to provide reliable, timely and transparent information on the quality of U.S. sorghum as it moves through export channels. They will also use consistent methodology to permit the assessment of trends over time.

Setting the stage for the entire 2015 U.S. sorghum crop, the report showed that early harvest sorghum entered marketing channels with the following key characteristics:

Grade factors and moisture

  • Average test weight of 57.9 pounds per bushel (74.5 kilograms per hectoliter), with 94 percent within the range for U.S. No. 2 grade sorghum.
  • Low levels of broken kernels and foreign materials (average of 1.4 percent), with 92 percent within the range for U.S. No. 1 grade.
  • Average foreign material of 0.5 percent, well within the range for U.S. No. 1 grade, indicating little cleaning will be required.
  • Low levels of total damage (average of 0.2 percent), with 96 percent within the range for U.S. No. 1 grade.
  • No observed heat damage.
  • Average elevator moisture of 14.5 percent, near optimum for harvest moisture.

Chemical composition

  • Average protein concentration of 10.4 percent on a dry basis.
  • Average starch concentration of 73.3 percent on a dry basis.
  • Average oil concentration of 4.3 percent on a dry basis.
  • No detected levels of tannins.

Physical factors

  • Average kernel diameter of 2.54 millimeters and average kernel volume of 19.22 cubic millimeters, typical values for any sorghum samples.
  • A 1,000-kernel weight average of 25.97 grams.
  • Average kernel true density of 1.350 grams per cubic centimeter.
  • Average kernel hardness index of 68.5.

2015-16 sorghum crop production

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) report released in November 2015 estimates U.S. sorghum production at 15.083 million metric tons (594 million bushels) in 2015-16, a 37 percent increase in production over the 2014-15 crop year. The United States is the top exporter of grain sorghum, accounting for almost 75 percent of the global trade.