Growing and Harvesting Sorghum: Raising Cane and Gettin' Juiced


| 8/30/2016 2:19:00 PM


Sorghum seed head and juice

Sorghum is one of the topics we cover when we speak at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. We also did a "juicing" demonstration.

We are a small farm and we stick mainly with the traditional crops that have always been grown here in the mountains (Western North Carolina). Although, we try to find more economical ways of growing, processing and/or marketing those crops — which tends to be non-traditional ways.

I'm a genealogy nut, so I love to find out what my ancestors were growing and how. I want to connect land and family. I found an 1880 Agricultural Census with my great great grandfather listed. In that time Molasses, Maple Syrup, hops, wine, cheese and milk were a few listed. I was so excited! If they could produce those then we could surely do it now!

Is it Cane or Sorghum?

We tried the sorghum cane because we knew our land did well with corn and since they require much of the same nutrients we went with this. We needed another “sweet” option here on the farm too. We’ve always called it "cane." Sorghum is known by many names: sweet sorghum, sorghum cane and all are correct.

Sorghum is actually a type of grass, not unlike corn. Sorghum actually looks like a small variety of corn when growing. There are larger varieties of cane but, most of those are grown in South America and other hotter climates. This sugar cane doesn't produce as dark a syrup as does Sorghum cane.



Getting Started: Where to Find Sorghum Seed

We've been growing cane now for over 5 years. So, for us, we save seed each year. We chose Rox Orange which is a versatile cane. When getting started I recommend buying seed from a reputable dealer. There are many dealers out there and many choices when deciding which seed to buy. A company we have used is Sustainable Seed Company.





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