Sorghum PRH

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Sorghum Sorghum bicolor (Moench) and Millets: 

Sorghum Sorghum bicolor (Moench) and Millets CSS 311 Grains and Nutriceuticals Instructor Ralph L. Obendorf

Tropical Cereal Crops: 

Tropical Cereal Crops Major Rice – Oryza sativa Maize – Zea mays Sorghum – Sorghum bicolor Pearl Millet – Pennisetum glaucum Minor Finger Millet – Eleusine coracana Other millets Sorghum 4th in importance globally in area as a major cereal, wheat (210), rice (147), corn (139), sorghum (55), millets (33)

Tropical Cereal Acreage (mha): 

Tropical Cereal Acreage (mha) Source: FAO Stat web site


Distribution World Africa, India, China, Manchuria, Korea FAOStat web page USA Production 2002 9.6 m-acres 370 m-bushels for grain 0.35 m-acres 3.3 m-tons for silage Kansas (40%), Texas (33%), Nebraska (5%), Oklahoma (4%) Others = Missouri, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, S. Dakota USDA statistics web page

Sorghum distribution USA: 

Sorghum distribution USA Dryland (too dry for corn) or irrigated Warm summer temperatures Hybrids now being used – higher production, combine harvested

Grain sorghum in USA: 

Grain sorghum in USA

Tropical cereal yields t/ha 2002: 

Tropical cereal yields t/ha 2002 Source: FaoStat web page

Comparative energy yield: 

Comparative energy yield Source: Norman, Pearson and Searle – page 90

Tropical cereal proteins: 

Tropical cereal proteins Source: Norman, Pearson and Searle – page 92

Amino Acids in Tropical cereals: 

Amino Acids in Tropical cereals Deficient in amino acids Lysine, Methionine, Tryptophan Maize and sorghum are low in lysine – but there are high lysine lines available Rice low thiamine Maize low niacin Rat gain Lysine as % protein High lysine lines

Adaptation sorghums: 

Adaptation sorghums Grown in warm and hot regions – rainfed and irrigated – best when mean T=37C – minimum T = 15C – frost free only. Rainfed areas where 17-25 inches – dormant if drought – resume when it rains Has more secondary roots and smaller leaf area than maize. Leaves dry slower than corn – more drought tolerant than corn. Has waxy cuticle on leaves Is very productive on irrigated lands especially hybrids Short day plant – flowers as days get shorter – plant in Spring Grows on all soils – can tolerate some soil salinity Tolerance to water stress between maize and millets. Maize less, millets more. More tolerant waterlogging than maize or millets.

Other Factors sorghum: 

Other Factors sorghum Advantages/resistance: heat and drought grasshopper attack root worm corn borer Drawbacks lower yields after sorghum – exhaust nutrients and/or allelopathy Needs prompt harvest – bird damage More difficult store Need grind before feeding Lower feeding and market value

Sorghum root system growth: 

Sorghum root system growth Irrigated Rainfed 2-times more root tips than maize >50% water from 60cm > 50% water from 90cm

Sorghum development (see class notes for more): 

Sorghum development (see class notes for more)

The Sorghum plant: 

The Sorghum plant Types Grain sorghum Sorgo – sweet sorghum Broomcorn Sudangrass Inflorescence is a panicle 2n = 10 90% self pollinated Pericarp pigments – yellow or red, no pigment = buff color Annual but also ratoons

Sorghum varieties: 

Sorghum varieties Grain hybrids – yellow endosperm – frost free days determines choice – killed by frost Hybrids with sudangrass – low prussic acid, resistant diseases, juicy, sweet and palatable. Short erect hybrids for grain – easy combine.

Crop management: 

Crop management Usually plant 50-100 cm rows Drilled shallow furrows Narrow rows give more Y if moisture not limiting Field emergence a problem More tillering less seedrate – usually 5-12 lbs/acre % and rapidity germination reduced if T’s below 77F Need to mature before frost Date seeding when soil 70-80F North that is after May 15 2-weeks after usual corn planting Irrigated area CA – best plant July Annual Rainfall

Irrigation and water management: 

Irrigation and water management 20-25 inches water needed for good yield: Stored soil moisture – winter rainfall – depends soil and water infiltration Rainfall – summer rainfall Irrigation – 8-20 inches may be needed in arid and semi-arid areas Can pre-plant irrigate soil to saturate soil 6-7 feet to avoid summer irrigation Maximum water use boot stage Water consumption increases proportion to yield

Sorghum yield and water use: 

Sorghum yield and water use Yield Consumptive use water

Sorghum Harvesting : 

Sorghum Harvesting Usually harvested by combine Grain mature when: Seeds are colored Begun to harden 18-20% moisture Best combine when grain 13% moisture otherwise need dry For silage it is cut or hay by mower

Sorghum utilization: 

Sorghum utilization Feed: Asia and Africa for humans Rest World for livestock and poultry Ground, steam rolled, flaked, popped or dry heated to improve digestibility Equal in nutritive value lb for lb as corn. Slightly higher protein, lower in fat High lysine and low tannin and prussic acid types Industrial uses: Brewing and distilling industry Starch, glucose, syrup (sorgo), oil, gluten similar to corn Flour used as adhesive

Sorghum diseases, pests: 

Sorghum diseases, pests Diseases: Kernel and head smuts Root and stalk rots Leaf spots – bacterial and fungus Others = stalk rot, anthracnose, downy mildew Insects Chinch bug Sorghum midge Aphids

Sorghum in tropics: 

Sorghum in tropics Origins in Africa – Ethiopia, Sudan Main tropical countries where grown India, Nigeria, Sudan, Burkino Faso, Ethiopia, Colombia, Mali and Egypt Ratoon possible so after harvest, regrowth can be grazed by animals. Grows 1-4 meters tall, harvested for grain and the stover for animal feed.

Sorghum in tropics: 

Sorghum in tropics Sensitive to low temperature during germination. Grown in the wet season on the dry margins of maize environments. Utilizes stored soil moisture. Wide spacing used in subsistence farming but need closer spacing for high yields. Has yield potential 7t/ha but average below 1t. Grown in areas with rainfall between 400-1000 mm Responsive to fertilizers. 100-120 days duration.

Mixed cropping in tropics: 

Mixed cropping in tropics Grown more in, subsistence semi-intensive and intensive rainfed cropping systems and less important in shifting systems. Often grown mixed with many crops and even sorghum varieties of different maturities: Africa = millets, groundnut, cowpea India = millets, groundnut, pigeopea Sorghum/pigeonpea – both planted start of the season. Sorghum harvest 100 days and PP left to use moisture and nutrients left and harvested 160 days. LER 1.76 Not usually planted in sequence because limitations of water. Only where irrigation or higher rainfall.

Pearl Millet: 

Pearl Millet Mainly rainfed crop Better able exploit deeper soil layers for nutrients than sorghum Also grown as a fodder crop Usually mixed with other crops Reading: Norman, Pearson and Searle – pages 164-181

Finger Millet: 

Finger Millet Rainfed crop Mixed cropped with maize Also used for animal fodder Used for making local alcoholic drinks

Pearl Millet: 

Pearl Millet Origins: Southern edge of Sahara Mainly grown in W. Africa (Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Chad, Senegal) and India Grown rainfall areas 200-800 mm Duration 55 – 180 days Tillering important since it is planted at low populations in semi-arid, rainfed areas. C4 plant like maize and sorghum More productive than maize or sorghum at low moisture conditions Doesn’t tolerate waterlogging Adapted to low fertility but responds to fertilizer. Needs high K levels.


Pearlmillet Grown at the limits of agriculture in wet and dry tropical environments Only one crop per year because of moisture constraints Usually planted mixed: Africa = groundnut, cowpea and sorghum Asia = sorghum, groundnuts, cowpea, pigeopea Can mix a short and long duration millet variety to spread risk LER’s of 120-130

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