Popcorn is one of America’s favorite snacks, with American farmers producing 1.07 billion pounds of popcorn in 2017 alone, according to the latest Census of Agriculture data.
But popcorn has a new competitor—popped sorghum.
And Texas A&M University AgriLife Research scientists recently released a new hybrid sorghum variety developed specifically for popping.
Choosing varieties for popping traits is a notable shift in sorghum hybrid development.
Popped sorghum is a good snack food choice with untapped market potential.
Compared to popcorn, popped sorghum has a smaller popped kernel size. This quality makes it ideal in products where popcorn is too large to be used, like granola bars or candies. In addition, popped sorghum doesn’t have a strong flavor, which makes it desirable for added flavoring. The popped grain of sorghum is also more tender than popcorn and doesn’t contain hulls.
In the U.S., sorghum is mostly used for animal feed either as grain, chopped silage or forage. While Southerners once relied heavily on sorghum syrup, the regional delicacy waned around the end of World War I as refined sugar cane became cheaper and more available.
But over the past few years, interest in sorghum for human consumption has resurged. Sorghum is naturally gluten-free and is not genetically modified, and some varieties are good sources of antioxidants, as well.
And popped sorghum is a particularly intriguing application of the versatile crop. Some genotypes produce a white, fluffy piece of popped endosperm when subjected to high heat, just like popping corn varieties.
But the starch and protein in popped sorghum is more digestible than in the un-popped grain. This could lead to an increase of popped sorghum flour-based products and animal feed.
Along with a high popping efficiency, the hybrids developed have good expansion ratios, or how much volume the grain gains when popped, and flake sizes, which refers to the size of individual pieces of popped sorghum.
The hybrids we released are high yielding, agronomically adapted grain sorghum that can be used in the popped grain industry.
The hybrids’ technical names are Tx3489 and Tx3490.
While these lines can be used as pollinator parents to produce grain sorghum hybrids for popping, they may also be a parent for the development of new pop sorghum parental lines.
Firearm safety equipment now tax-free in Texas
As of Sept. 1, firearm safety equipment in Texas is tax-free, thanks to a bill passed during the regular session of the 87th Texas Legislature.
Items designed to ensure the safe handling and storage of a firearm—such as gun safes, firearm lock boxes, barrel locks, trigger locks, arms safety training manuals and electronic publications of the same nature—are now exempt from sales tax, according to Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hagar.
“Senate Bill 313 exempts firearms safety equipment from sales and uses tax, which is 6.25% for the state and mostly, depending on the city, another 2%. So that’s 8.25% potential savings for anyone who wants to purchase something to better secure their firearms,” Hegar said in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network.
His office is working on updating the agency’s website, where the final rule regarding items qualifying for exemption should be published within 30 days.
With hunting season in full swing, the effective date of the bill is timely.
If we can utilize this exemption as another mechanism to incentivize Texans to make sure to keep their firearms in a safe manner or having them in a gun safe or with a trigger lock, that is money very well spent. It’s at a little fiscal cost to the state, but the health and safety of other individuals and our kids is way more important than a few million dollars into the state treasury.
Retailers should already be aware and prepared to offer customers the exemption, and no special certificate is needed. Hegar noted the Texas Retailers Association has been working to make retailers aware of any legislative changes from the last session, but there may be some smaller retailers who have not yet been informed of the tax changes to firearm safety equipment purchases.
If that happens, he said the best way to inform a retailer would be to refer them to the Comptroller website after the final rule is posted. Alternately, someone can go directly to the text version of the bill on their phone and show it to the retailer.
Purchases made from Texas retailers both in-store and online qualify for the tax exemption.
Like myself, many Texans grew up hunting and fishing, and we really enjoy the outdoors and sporting activities,” Hegar said. “But we also want to incentivize people to continue to practice firearm safety. This sales tax exemption on gun locks and safes and other trigger or barrel locks goes an extra step to ensure our youth continue to enjoy hunting, enjoy the outdoors, but are safe and secure, as well.