Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor)
Ranks with wheat, oats, corn and barley as among the most cultivated grains in the world. It is used as flour, cereal grain, sweetener, livestock feed, and in the making of brooms. Best known in the South for making molasses during an all-night boil where the juice is pressed from the stalks and reduced down in a large pot over a fire until it becomes a rich dark syrup.
Nutrients: iron, phosphorus and potassium
How To Grow Sorghum From Seed
Sorghum is an annual, frost sensitive grass that prefers full sun and tolerates a wide variety of soils. Sorghum is a heavy feeder; add an organic fertilizer to the soil before planting and a side dressing of nitrogen about 6 weeks after planting. Drought tolerant once established.
Sorghum should be direct seeded outdoors once the danger of frost has passed and temperatures have warmed. Optimal soil temperature for germination is 55-80˚F. Sow seeds 1/2” deep and 1-2” apart in rows that are 2' apart. Seeds will sprout in 7-15 days. Thin seedlings so that mature plants are 8" apart.
For molasses, harvest sorghum stalks 2 weeks after immature seeds begin the "milk stage". Seeds are "milking" if a white liquid oozes out when pierced. Harvest sorghum for grain when the seeds are fully mature. Cut seed heads with several inches of stalk still intact. Hang seed stalks to dry for a week before threshing and winnowing plants to separate seed from chaff.
Perfect, self-pollinating flowers are held in panicles (flower heads), which dry on the plant for easy harvest. Wind pollination is possible with very open flowers, though rare. Dry panicles can be cut individually as they are ready, and screened and winnowed to clean for storage.