See the 10 important considerations you need to know about sorghum.
1. The crop was introduced to America in 1757. Different varieties, hybrids and genotypes can be used for fibers, bioethanol, biogas, heat and electricity among many other possible uses.
2. Biomass obtained from it can be wet (silage, chopped) or baled with less than 15% moisture content through mowing and drying on the field for some days before baling.
3. Sorghum ranks fifth among the most important cereal crops of the world, after wheat, rice, corn, and barley in both total area planted and production. Its name comes from Italian “sorgo”, in turn from Latin “Syricum (granum)” meaning “grain of Syria”.
4. Its grain is higher in protein and lower in fat content than corn, but does not contain carotene as corn does. Hybrids “Sorghum x sudan grass” can produce 25-35 dried matter tons per hectare as average in large upscale production schemes for bioenergy production under rain-fed conditions.
5. There are three main types of genotypes to consider: grain, forage, fiber and sweet sorghum-. Grain sorghum grows to about 5 feet and is used for livestock feed, biofuels, pet food and human consumption. Forage sorghum grows 6 to 12 feet tall and produces more dry matter tonnage than grain sorghum. Because of its coarse stem, it’s primarily used for silage. Sweet sorghum is harvested for its juice before the mature plant forms clusters of grain. The stalks are pressed, and the juice is fermented and distilled for the production of biofuels.
6. Select varieties of sorghum bran have greater antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties than well-known foods such as blueberries and pomegranates, according to a new study from the University of Georgia.
7. Grain sorghum is grown in over 66 countries, and the U.S. is the largest producer in the world. In the U.S., 46 percent of the sorghum grown is used as livestock feed.
8. Sorghum can be grown in a wide range of soil and climatic conditions, and can thrive in semiarid areas.
9. Sorghum produces 2.7 gallons of ethanol per bushel. Inputs used per hectare or ton are not the lowest compared to switchgrass and other crops, because it needs nitrogen and water as well as being established each year. Under certain conditions in Europe producing electricity from biomass, yields above 20 odt/ha (oven dried tons per hectare) are required to achieve an economic breakeven point and high GHG emissions savings replacing fossil fuels.
10. Between 30 to 35 percent of US domestic sorghum goes to ethanol production.
Source: US National Sorghum producers and own ellaboration
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