Sweet Sorghum is a tall (8ft or so) grass/cane. It kind of reminded me of corn. Our job was to strip the leaves down off the stalks and then others (who better knew what they were doing) came behind us and hacked the stalks with a machete and put them in piles. The stalks were then taken to a local mill where the stalks are pressed to remove the cane juice inside. It is boiled down like maple syrup to get more concentrated in flavor. (We did not witness this part.) They brought us a jar of it later as a thank you for helping and it was delicious! I would describe it closer to the flavor of honey than molasses! You can use it like honey. It is so much milder than molasses. I was told this was the sweetest and mildest they (and others) had ever tasted...so I hope it wasn't a fluke. But we are going to try to grow some this year! We figure with the economy going the way it is and food prices doing what they are, it is good to diversify into different areas of self sustainability. We are told it is hardy and grows in just about any soil and is not very picky, it can withstand drought pretty good.
I researched some more and learned that sorghum grain is the third most important cereal crop grown in the United States and the fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world. The United States is the world's largest producer of grain sorghum followed by India and Nigeria. It is a leading cereal grain produced in Africa and is an important food source in India. Leading exporters are the United States, Australia and Argentina." Hmm - who knew?? This Yankee girl didn't. Apparently, it is a "southern thing". As you can see from the other regions in which it is grown, it likes the heat.
The tops of the plants generate the seed grain. This can be used for a plethora of things! The grain can be ground into a flour, or cooked similar to rice. It can be made into porridge or popped like popcorn! It is used for animal feed too! The birds love it, so you have to beat them too it. Some varieties are used as wild feed plots for hunters.
This year we are experimenting with our own sorghum. We got seed form our local Amish which is another story in itself: I had been researching seeds online and found out there are many varieties, that have different uses and stronger qualities for the various uses. I was finding about 10gr for about $3. Other places we saw 100 or 200 seeds going for the same price. We weren't sure how much we would need for the patch we had designated, but estimated about 2500 seeds based on our square footage. That would be close to $40 at that rate...we thought there would have to be a better way. Our friends said "check the Amish" (DUH!), so we did..and within a half hour we were driving home with a POUND of seeds (way more than we need) for $1.50!! No tax, not shipping and we met some new neighbors in the process, perfect. Buy local - right?! YES!! We'll have to take pictures of our process and let you know how it goes. We have a mill to press it, close by, so we are covered there too.
We don't know what to expect for syrup or seed yield. If things go well and we like it, (and we get a tractor to work with) we will increase our crop next year.
This post was shared on The Barn Hop