MODESTO -- Modesto-area farmers can learn Tuesday about sorghum, a livestock feed grown mostly on the Great Plains but now in demand from San Joaquin Valley ethanol plants.
Chromatin Inc., a Chicago-based breeder of sorghum seed, will hold a meeting at the DoubleTree Hotel, 1150 Ninth St. The free event will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and includes lunch.
The company will have information on contracts to grow sorghum this year for ethanol plants in Keyes, Stockton and Pixley, Tulare County.
Corn is the main source of ethanol, which is mixed into gasoline, but its use has drawn criticism from dairy and poultry farmers concerned about high feed costs.
Sorghum supporters say it uses less water and fertilizer than other crops and can tolerate heat, drought and marginal soil. They also say it can be grown in rotation with wheat, cotton or vegetables.
"We're excited about the opportunities that grain sorghum presents for California growers and the state's energy producers," said Daphne Preuss, chief executive officer at Chromatin, in a news release. "Grain sorghum is a flexible crop that can fit in many farming operations and has proven yields in California growing areas."
The company's first California crop was grown on 40 acres in the Stockton area last year and delivered to the Pacific Ethanol Inc. plant in the city.
The most recent crop report for Stanislaus County, for 2011, does not mention sorghum. It was among several "miscellaneous" field crops in the Merced County report for that year.
Kansas and Texas accounted for about 80 percent of the estimated 5.24 million acres of sorghum harvested in the nation last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
To register for the meeting or get more information, visit www.chromatininc.com/news or call (559) 310-1112.