Learn About Growing Sorghum: A Natural Sweetener

Sorghum is natural, delicious, and a sweet addition to any harvest. Growing sorghum can be done on a small or large scale, and is the first step to producing your own sweet sorghum syrup.


| November 1, 2012



Sorghum Syrup

Sorghum syrup can be homegrown or purchased as a syrup; it is a great natural sweetener. This tasty product is highlighted in "Sweet Sorghum" by George Kuepper with the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture. His book explains growing sorghum and sorghum production.


Photo by Laura M. Ervin

Covering the modern homesteading tradition of growing sorghum in his book, Sweet Sorghum (Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture) George Kuepper discusses ways to transform this natural sweetener from plant to plate. Growing sorghum is a custom in which the product, sweet sorghum, is transformed into a nutritious homemade syrup.  This excerpt is from Chapter 10 and describes growing sorghum. Learn how to process your sorghum into sweet sorghum syrup by reading Sorghum Production: Milling and Cooking. 

You can purchase this book from Kerr Center Publications: Sweet Sorghum. 

Growing Sorghum: 

Variety Selection 

Sorghum is a tropical grass native to Africa. It first came to the Americas with imported slaves. Sorghum resembles corn in many of its characteristics and in the manner it is grown. Sorgo, the term used for sweet sorghum, is only one of several types of sorghum. The sorghum family includes grain sorghums, such as 'milo' and 'hegari'; forages, like 'sudangrass' and 'kafir'; 'broomcorn'; and 'Johnsongrass,' a perennial sorghum.

Also called cane, sorgo is distinguished by the abundance of sweet juice in the stems and typically tall height. Sorgo cane should not be confused with sugarcane, another tropical grass from which a sweet syrup can be made. Several sweet sorghum varieties are currently available. All are open-pollinated or nonhybrid.

They can be divided into traditional and improved categories. Sorghum is drought tolerant, particularly when compared to corn. Yield and syrup quality of any sweet sorghum variety will suffer under a drought, although tolerance will vary.

Traditional varieties have been cultivated for generations and are still grown, almost religiously, by some farmers. When compared to improved types, growing sorghum of older varieties are more prone to lodging and disease. Yields are also lower. High syrup quality, whether real or perceived, is the main reason they are grown. One value of traditional varieties may be in specialty marketing where gourmet tastes are targeted.

andycrust
6/4/2014 5:32:20 AM

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andycrust
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