Production

Sorghum is a summer crop used mainly for livestock feed. In 2015/16, sorghum production is forecast at 1.8 million tons, slightly above the previous year. The harvest area for grain sorghum is expected to increase to 625,000 hectares. Early harvest is already under way and sorghum yields are expected to be stable at 2.9 tons per hectare. In late 2014, increased plantings of sorghum occurred because of higher rainfall during the planting window. This was supported by increased demand for sorghum as animal feed because of the record number of cattle in feedlots in Australia. In mid-March, feed sorghum prices rose to around A$330 a metric ton while grain sorghum used for liquor production was priced at around A$370.

Australia normally produces around two to three per cent of global sorghum and accounts for five per cent of global exports. Sixty per cent of the Australian crop is grown in Queensland and the remainder in northern NSW. Planting times are from September to January and sorghum is classified as either grain sorghum or forage sorghum according to the tannin content. Grain sorghum is often used for feed grain for the beef, dairy, pig and poultry industries and is the main summer grain crop in most regions of Queensland. The grain, stalks and leaves are all used for animal feeding products.

Exports

In 2015/16, sorghum exports are forecast to increase to 600,000 tons due to stronger Chinese demand for non-GM sorghum for stock feed and liquor production. China is Australia's largest export market for grain sorghum due to rising use of grain sorghum in animal feed and liquor production in that country. Under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (CHafta), the two percent tariff on grain sorghum exports from Australia will be removed immediately on commencement of the agreement, which is expected in late 2015.

Australian Sorghum Exports by country, 2010-2014 ('000 metric tons)

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

World

51

116

205

797

356

China

25

0

39

758

349

Taiwan

10

19

34

13

3

Japan

1

39

1

13

..

Philippines

4

3

5

7

2

New Zealand

0

16

27

2

0

Export market share (%)

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

China

49.0

0

19.0

95.1

98.0

Taiwan

19.6

16.4

16.6

1.6

0.8

Japan

2.0

33.6

..

1.6

0

Philippines

7.8

2.6

2.4

0.9

0.6

New Zealand

0

13.8

13.2

0.3

0

Source: Global Trade Atlas

Australia enjoys the advantage of earlier harvests than some sorghum producers such as the United States but the timing of storage and export is important for the industry. From July each year, Australian sorghum competes directly with US sorghum crops in the Chinese market. Over the last five years, Australia's national production of sorghum has averaged 1.8 million tons, of which an average of 46 percent has been exported.

Sorghum

2013/2014

2014/2015

2015/2016

Market Begin Year

Mar 2013

Mar 2014

Mar 2015

Australia

USDA Official

New post

USDA Official

New post

USDA Official

New post

Area Harvested

493

493

660

604

0

625

Beginning Stocks

195

195

147

147

0

197

Production

1,107

1,107

2,000

1,790

0

1,800

MY Imports

0

0

0

0

0

0

TY Imports

0

0

0

0

0

0

TY Imp. from U.S.

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total Supply

1,302

1,302

2,147

1,937

0

1,997

MY Exports

400

400

800

535

0

600

TY Exports

405

405

800

540

0

600

Feed and Residual

750

750

1,200

1,200

0

1,200

FSI Consumption

5

5

5

5

0

5

Total Consumption

755

755

1,205

1,205

0

1,205

Ending Stocks

147

147

142

197

0

192

Total Distribution

1,302

1,302

2,147

1,937

0

1,997

1000 HA, 1000 MT, MT/HA