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Sorghum
Scientific Name: Sorghum bicolor
Cultivars:Numerous. The different Sorghum types include:
  • Grain types (short).
  • Forage types (medium height: sudan, sudan hybrids). Brown mid rib (BMR) sorghums have reduced lignin associated with increased forage digestibility (TDN).
  • Hybrid Forage Sorghums: tall, single cut for silage, also include BMR types
  • Sweet sorghum types (tall; high in sugar for molasses and biofuel use).
  • Growth Habit:3-12 feet tall, bunchgrass. Grain types and single-cut harvest (hybrid forage sorghum) for silage usually do not regrow following harvest. Sorghum-sudangrass or sudangrasses generally grow back after harvest.
    Life Cycle:Annual
    Origin:Africa
    Production Season:
  • Central and North Florida - May to mid September for all types; earlier and later for South Florida.
  • Nutritive Value:
  • Varies with management. Low to medium crude protein and medium to high digestibility.
  • Forage quality is best at 60 and 72 percent moisture content (medium to hard dough stage). Protein and energy are reduced when harvested at grain too dried. Harvesting too wet will cause ensiling problems and likely decrease intake in cattle.
  • Use:Grain (starch) types for industrial uses (biofuel, bird seed). Also used as food in Africa and some tropical America countries. Forage types used as hay, haylage, silage and grazing (of the stubble after is cut for hay). Sweet sorghum types used for biofuel production , for molasses production, as alcoholic beverages (Asian countries).
    Herbarium Image:For an herbarium image click this link.

    Adaptation
    Soil:Sandy-loam. Tolerates high pH and salinity.
    pH:5.5 - 7.5
    Rainfall:16-60 inches; Tolerant of late season drought, however requires more water than pearl millet
    Temperature:
  • 60°F minimum temperature for sorghum growth.
  • Highest yields occurs between 75°F and 86°F.
  • It is frost sensitive.
  • 59°F minimum for germination.

  • Management
    Planting Date:
  • March in south Florida
  • Mid April through June in central and north Florida
  • Planting Depth:0.25-0.5 inch
    Seeding Rate:Sudan types: 25 lb/acre drilled in rows (6 to 8 inch widerows), or 30 to 40 lb/acre broadcast. Seeds may be white, yellow, red, or brown, with the darker-colored seed being higher in tannins.
    Seed Cost:Variable. BMR ($1.0/lb; $24 to 29/acre)
    Fertilization:For fertilization info click this link
    Production:Grain= 50-60 bu/acre. Forage= 4-12 tons/acre (90% DM); 15-30 tons/acre (wet). Sweet sorghum= 15-30 tons/acre (wet); 400-600 gallons/acre (based on nationalproduction). For production info click this link

    Notes
  • May cause nitrate poisoning if drought stressed, or under cloudy conditions. Also, potential prussic acid poisoning if grazed after frost, rain or plant stressed; not normally a concern when sorghum is harvested for silage but wait 4 days to harvest after killing frost
  • In horses causes interstitial cystitis.
  • New photoperiod sensitive cultivars will only flower when daylength is 12 1/2 hours.
  • May attract root nematodes and sting nematodes.
  • Not considered a problem as an invasive plant unless seed source is contaminated with Johnsongrass or shattercane


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