History Present Biological Charakteristics Attributes Grain Quality and Use
Soil, Climate and Temperature Requirements Cultivation and Manuring Crop Management Harvest Postharvest Processing and Storage


(Sorghum bicolor L.)

Sorghum Sorghum


Sorghum comes from Africa, from where it was taken to the warm and dry areas of all continents. Probably during the first millennium BC sorghum spread to India then approximately at Christian era along the southeast coast of Asia to China. Grain sorghum got to America from West Africa together with slave traders in the middle of 19th century but its importance there and in Australia as well was recognized in 20th century.



It is the most important cereal in arid regions able to give at least a small crop under the conditions where the rest of all cereals have troubles to survive. Only 1 % of the total production of sorghum is grown in Europe (France, Italy, Spain and some southeastern countries). It is also extensively cultivated in Russia and Ukraine. Sorghum grain is a staple foodstuff in semiarid tropics of Asia and Africa.


Biological Characteristics

Sorghum has well developed root system including bunch of root hair able to absorb plenty of water and nutrients. Besides subterranean root system sorghum forms strong aerial roots permeating through the soil and ensuring better stability in it. Stem is strong, hard, and smooth divided by nodes and grain forms grow up to 1-1.5 m. Sorghum leaves are 50-100 mm wide and 0.5-0.8 m long. Leaves are covered with wax layer and stem likewise. Inflorescence of sorghum is very characteristic part of the plant usually formed in different shapes and sizes. Panicle is erected, drooping or reflexed. Spikelets contain one flower and are gathered in 2,3 or 4 on secondary branches. Sorghums are allogamous but their pollen is good enough to pollinate themselves. Seeds of sorghum are round, oval or heart-shaped and can occur in white, creamy, yellow, pink, brown or violet colour.



Sorghum does not require special conditions but grows in warmer regions with a drier period of time only. It is a very appreciated plant in countries with dry climate in tropical and subtropical zones. This crop belongs among plants suitable for individuals suffering from celiac disease because its seed does not contain gluten causing the digestion malfunction. .


Grain quality and Use

Like other cereals sorghum is predominantly starchy. The highest amount of starch and protein occur in endosperm. Protein content is comparable to wheat and maize. High fibre content in outer layer and poor digestibility of nutrients are characteristic features of sorghum, which influence consumer acceptability. Generally whole grains are important sources of B-complex vitamins (esp. endosperm and germ). Germ contains mainly lipids and minerals with some small amounts of protein and B-complex vitamins. The protein content of sorghum grain is significantly and inversely correlated with its weight and starch content; grain yield and protein content are in inverse correlation too. On the other hand ash and protein content of sorghum are positively correlated with each other.


The most common products made from whole grain are porridges, tortillas, couscous, rice substitute or just popped sorghum. Sorghum whole grain flour or white flour is used for flat bread making (leavened or unleavened) and porridges. Cracked grains are an ingredient in mixtures with pulses and/or vegetable.


Grain sorghum can be fed to domestic animals as a green fodder harvested in different stages of plant development.


Grain is used in beer and alcohol production.


Soil, Climate and Temperature Requirements

Sorghum is a thermophile plant and tolerates drought. It does not have a demand of particular growing conditions. Nevertheless, sorghum does not tolerate temperatures under 10 C causing yellow leaves and inadequate pollination. That is why the short season varieties only can be grown in temperate zone and during the warmest period of time.


Cultivation and Manuring

Integration to the crop rotation is very similar to maize. The best preceding crops are those not leaving fields weedy thus mainly root crops and leguminous crops. Sorghum is tolerant to re-growing on the same field for 2-3 years. Sorghum itself is a good preceding crop for spring cereals and technical crops. Fields sown with this crop should be well fertilized because sorghum's uptake of all nutrients is very high. Intensive cultivation requires 20-25 kg N, 35-65 kg P2O5 a 30-45 kg K2O per hectare.


Crop Management


The most suitable time to sown is when soil temperature reaches at least 10 C. Row distance varies from 0.5-0.7 m, shorter types of sorghum 0.25 m. Sowing depth is 20-50 mm and sowing rate approximately 10-15 kg per hectare. Once sowing is done the field has to be strengthen by roller.


Treatment during growing season

It is necessary to keep soil crust-free by hoeing especially during the emerging stage.



Sorghum is harvested by adjusted combine-harvester in full maturity under dry conditions.


Postharvest Processing and Storage

Crop should be separated from all kinds of impurities and dried up on 14-15 % of moistness as soon as possible and stored in a dry place.