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sorghum

sorghum, tall, coarse annual (Sorghum vulgare) of the family Gramineae (grass family), somewhat similar in appearance to corn (but having the grain in a panicle rather than an ear) and used for much the same purposes. Probably indigenous to Africa, it is one of the longest-cultivated plants of warm regions there and also in Asia—especially in India and China. Because of its extreme drought resistance (because of the unusually extensive branching root system) and its ability to withstand hotter climates than corn, sorghum has been introduced to the United States and other regions.

The innumerable varieties are generally classified as the sweet sorghums or sorgos, yielding sorghum syrups and molasses from the cane juice; the broomcorns, yielding a fiber from the inflorescence that is used for making brooms; the grass sorghums (e.g., Sudan grass), used for pasture and hay; and the grain sorghums, e.g., durra, feterita, kaffir or kaffir corn, kaoliang, milo or milo maize, and shallu. The pulverized grain is used for stock and poultry feeds and, in the Old World, for food. Sorghums also provide cover crops and green manures, grain substitutes for many industrial processes that employ corn, and fuel and weaving material from the stems.

In the United States, sorghum is grown throughout the Great Plains area and in Arizona and California; about half the crop is used for forage and silage and half for feed grains. Only a small amount is grown for syrup, most of which is consumed locally. Johnson grass (S. halapense), a perennial native to the Mediterranean that is similar to Sudan grass, is naturalized in the United States, especially in the Southwest. It is a noxious weed in cultivated fields but is also used as a forage crop.

Sorghum is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Cyperales, family Gramineae.

See bulletins of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

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Sorghum

SORGHUM

SORGHUM. In the 1840s the United States imported sorghum seeds from Liberia and grew the plants with a view to manufacturing sugar commercially from their juice. All such attempts proved futile, however, since glucose is the only saccharine matter in the plant. Colonel Isaac Hedges of Missouri was the greatest promoter of the product. During the Civil War, when Southern molasses was unavailable in the North, sorghum became a popular product in the Upper Mississippi Valley. Farmers used large wooden knives to strip sorghum stalks of their leaves as the plants stood in the field. They then cut the stalks and hauled them to a local mill where they were run between rollers to extract the juice, which was boiled to the proper consistency in large vats. Great quantities of this "long sweetening" were made and used as a substitute for sugar on the prairie frontier.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ledbetter, William M. "Isaac Hedges' Vision of a Sorghum-Sugar Industry in Missouri," Missouri Historical Review 21, no. 3 (1926): 361–369.

EverettDick/c. w.

See alsoMaple Sugar ; Molasses Trade ; Sugar Industry .

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sorghum

sorghum Sorghum vulgare, S. bicolor; cereals that thrive in semi‐arid regions and provide important human food in tropical Africa, central and north India, and China. Sorghum produced in the USA and Australia is used for animal feed. Also known as kaffir corn (in South Africa), guinea corn (in west Africa), jowar (in India), Indian millet, and millo maize. The white‐grain variety is eaten as meal; the red‐grained has a bitter taste and is used for beer; sugar syrup is obtained from the crushed stems of the sweet sorghum. A 200‐g portion is a rich source of protein, vitamin B1, niacin, and iron; a good source of zinc; a source of vitamin B2; provides 14 g of dietary fibre; supplies 660 kcal (2800 kJ). See also millet.

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sorghum

sorghum Tropical cereal grass native to Africa and cultivated worldwide. Types raised for grain are varieties of Sorghum vulgare that have leaves coated with white waxy blooms and flower heads that bear up to 3000 seeds. It yields meal, oil, starch, and dextrose (a sugar). Height: 0.5–2.5m (2–8ft). Family Poaceae/Gramineae.

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sorghum

sor·ghum / ˈsôrgəm/ • n. a widely cultivated cereal (genus Sorghum) native to warm regions of the Old World. It is a major source of grain and of feed for livestock. ∎  a syrupy sweetener made from a type of this cereal.

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sorghum

sorghum Indian millet XVI; Chinese sugar cane; genus of grasses XIX. modL. — It. sorgo, perh. :- Rom. *syricum (cf. medL. sur(i)cum) Syrian
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sorghum

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