Friday, February 20, 2009

Sorghum in Arizona

Got my seed packs last week from Native Seeds SEARCH, including one pack of Sorghum, called Gila River Kana.

Here is the basics on sorghum:

Sorghum came to be adapted to, and popular in, areas where it was too hot and dry to grow corn. It’s adaptation to dry conditions is due to the fact that it is able to remain dormant during drought and then resume growth; its leaves roll as they wilt thus presenting less surface for transpiration; its waxy leaves and stems protect from drying; and the large fibrous root system extracts moisture from soil.

Fertilize the soil before planting because sorghum is easily burned by fertilizer. Try to get a low pH in the soil for the sorghum to do well. Seeds are typically planted at the time the soil is safely between 65 to 70 degrees F at a depth of 4 inches. Once the seed is planted, cover it with 1 inch of regular soil or 1 ½ inches of sandy soil. The seeds should be from 6 to 8 inches apart and in rows that are 3 to 3 ½ feet apart. Don't worry about watering too much. Sorghum is very tolerant to both drought and flooding.


Growing the sorghum cane is just the first challenge. Then comes the processing. Press the cane to extract its juice, then boil it down until it thickens into dark brown syrup. After cooking, the sorghum syrup is about 80 per cent sugar.


Here is a nice report on an heirloom sorghum test: http://www.kerrcenter.com/publications/sorghum-report.pdf

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