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Sorghum
Poaceae
Sorghum bicolor


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Thunder
Type Categories Useful Parts

Herb



Poaceae Family

Sorghum Genus
Other Names for this Plant

Sorghum, Durra, Egyptian Millet, Feterita, Guinea Corn, Jowar, Juwar, Milo, Shallu, Sudan Grass, JoLa (Kannada name), Jonnalu (Telugu name), Gaoliang, Great Millet, Kafir Corn, Dura, Mtama, and Solam.


Location

Native to Africa

Physical Description
It is an annual, rather drought-resistant crop. The culms are from 2 to 15 ft (0.6 to 4.6 m) tall, and the hard cortical layer, or shell, encloses a sweet, juicy pith that is interspersed with vascular bundles. At each node both a leaf and a lateral bud alternate on opposite sides; the internodes are alternately grooved on one side. Leaves are smooth with glossy or waxy surfaces and have margins with small, sharp, curved teeth. The leaves fold and roll up during drought. The inflorescence is a panicle of varying size having many primary branches with paired ellipsoidal spikelets containing two florets in each fertile sessile spikelet. The plant is self-pollinated. Seed is planted in cultivated rows and fertilized similarly to corn. The main sorghum-syrup-producing area is in the south-central and southeastern United States.


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Poaceae
Poales
Poales
Commelinidae
Monocots
Monocots
One First-Leaves (Monocots)
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
Plantae
Plants
Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

Commonly known as sorgo, sweet sorghum was introduced into North America from China in 1850, although its ancestry traces back to Egypt

Sorghum bicolor is an important crop providing food and fodder in the semi-arid tropics of the world. It is a staple food for more than 500 million people in more than 30 countries, although maize has to some extent replaced its use in southern Africa.. It has been used in the production of alcohol. The whole plant is used for forage, hay or silage. The stem of some types is used for building; fencing, weaving, broom making and firewood. Industrially it can be used for vegetable oil, waxes and dyes.

Medicinal Uses: Reported to be antiabortive, cyanogenetic, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, intoxicant, and poison, sorghum is a folk remedy for cancer, epilepsy, flux, and stomachache (Duke and Wain, 1981). The root is used for malaria in southern Rhodesia; the seed has been used for breast disease and diarrhea; the stem for tubercular swellings. In India, the plant is considered anthelminthic and insecticidal, and in South Africa, in combination with Erigeron canadense L., it is used for eczema (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). In China, where the seeds are used to make alcohol, the seed husk is braised in brown sugar with a little water and applied to the chest of measles patients. The stomachic seeds are considered beneficial in fluxes (Perry, 1980). According to Morton (1981) Curacao natives drink the leaf decoction for measles, grinding the seeds with those of the calabash tree (Cresentia) for lung ailments. Venezuelans toast and pulverize the seeds for diarrhea. Brazilians decoct the seed for bronchitis, cough, and other chest ailments, possibly using the ash for goiter. Arubans poultice hot oil packs of the seeds on the back of those suffering pulmonary congestion. According to Grieve's Herbal (1931), a decoction of ca 50 g seed to a liter of water is boiled down to ca 1 2 liter as a folk medication for kidney and urinary complaints.

Food Uses: S. bicolor; cereals that thrive in semi-arid regions and provide important human food in tropical Africa, central and north India, and China. Sorghum produced in the USA and Australia is used for animal feed. Also known as kaffir corn (in South Africa), guinea corn (in west Africa), jowar (in India), Indian millet, and millo maize. The white-grain variety is eaten as meal; the red-grained has a bitter taste and is used for beer; sugar syrup is obtained from the crushed stems of the sweet sorghum. A 200-g portion is a rich source of protein, vitamin B1, niacin, and iron; a good source of zinc; a source of vitamin B2

Brewing

Lager beers: Certain varieties of red sorghums contain active amylases at concentrations suitable for certain brewing applications. For the preparation of commercial lager beers, sorghum malt is not a direct replacement for barley malt since the diastatic power of the sorghum malt is very low and variable compared to that for barley malt. Sorghum is milled for its endosperm grits as a starch source (adjunct) for hydrolysis by malt enzymes to fermentable sugars. Supplementary amylolytic and proteolytic enzymes are necessary to complete the fermentations. (Hallgren, 1995)

Opaque beers: Africa has a tradition of making opaque beers by the use of sorghum as the source of malt and the adjunct, though for commercial brewing maize may often be the source of the adjunct. Opaque beer is a product of a lactic and alcoholic fermentation which is sold in a microbially active state, with a shelf life of only 5-7 days. The principles of the process whether by traditional or commercial methods are illustrated in Figure 4 (Daiber and Taylor, 1995).

Seed - raw or cooked. It is used as a whole grain in similar ways to rice or can be ground into a flour and made into bread etc. The ground seed yields a particularly white flour. Sorghum is a staple food in some regions, where it is often fermented (lactic acid fermentation) before being eaten. The sprouted seed can be eaten raw, and is sometimes added to salads. Sap - raw or cooked. Very sweet, it is made into a syrup. Stems - cooked. Some caution is advised here, there are some reports that the leaves can contain the poison cyanide.

Sorghum can be popped like popcorn

Cultivation: In dry-land conditions, seed normally sown in rows 75100 cm apart at rate of 39 kg ha; higher seed rates used for more humid areas. In good rainfall or under irrigation, seed should be close drilled or broadcast at rate of 2035 kg ha, this resulting in more leaf and less heavy stems, also obviating weeding. Seeds germinate best between 2030°C, with poorer germination higher or lower. Seeded in rows like corn in most areas. Seeding may be as early as March, as in southern Texas; but date of planting depends on use for which crop is intended. In tropics, sorghums may be planted nearly anytime. Crop sown on well-prepared, firm, moist seedbed. Seed planted to depth of 1.55 cm depending on soil texture and moisture. Compact soil if dry! Seeding before soil temperature at 10 cm reaches 1213°C can be injurious. Later or multiple plantings are often made to equalize forage production throughout the season. In subtropical climates, seeding in late summer or early fall may also be made. Sorghum hybrids are rather sensitive to low pH and low P and K availability. Generally fertilizer with 3060 kg ha P and 60120 kg ha K is used. Good responses of N fertilizer up to 200 kg ha have been obtained. Rotational or strip grazing is practiced. Non-tillering cvs are usually spaced 1014 cm apart in rows, whereas profuse tillering varieties are spaced 3045 cm apart. Weed control by chemicals or mechanical means important as crop grows slowly in early stages. Cultivate or harrow once after plant emergence and later as required; usually 13 cultivations necessary in tropics. Shallow cultivation essential to prevent damage to surface roots. Constant roguing necessary of off-type plants before flowering for both open pollinated and hybrid seed production. (Reed, 1976)

Propagation: By seed. - sow April in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within 2 weeks if given a minimum germination temperature of 23°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Consider giving them some protection, such as a cloche, until they are growing away strongly.





Sorghum
Ripe Sorghum



Sorghum
A field of Sorghum



Sorghum
Sorghum unripe heads

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