Sorghum is the fifth most important world cereal following wheat, maize, rice and barley.
Because of its drought resistance is the choice of drier regions though in recent years maize tends to replace sorghum.
It is used as a staple food, for brewing beer, as a livestock feed (fodder, forage or silage), for manufacturing industrial goods, as fuel and in many other forms.
- Sorghum is adapted to a wide range of ecological conditions and possesses better heat resistance than any other cereal.
- Select a fertile well-drained soil though it can tolerate water logging better than millet and maize.
- Avoid planting sorghum after sorghum; practice rotation with legumes or cotton where applicable.
- Select a site with little or no Striga.
- Field measurement is very important because accurate field measurement will guide the farmers to know the actual area of his farm.
- The use of Geographical positioning System (GPS) has simplified the rigor of land measurement.
- For area calculation, select AREA, from the main menu of GPS receiver.
- Enter START, then walk around the perimeter of the farmland you want to measure.
- Select CALCULATE to see the area inside the path walked through. The AREA’S unit can be converted to any unit in the GPS receiver.
- Sowing is done on flat or ridges.
- In most parts of Nigeria sorghum is sown on ridges and old ridges are destroyed and new ones are made in the old furrow.
- Proper soil tillage is (sometimes) necessary to obtain good yields.
- Good land preparation ensures that the site selected is cleared of any debris or stubbles from previous crops before the onset of rains.
- Gather and burn all the debris – to avoid carryover of pests and disease.
- Till the soil into smaller crumbs and in the process turn the soil over to cover the weeds.
- Tillage may involve plowing, harrowing and ridging.
- Plowing may be necessary after 3-5 years while harrowing and ridging are done yearly.
- Plowing is deep cultivation while harrowing pulverizes the soil and ridging helps to create a good bed for root establishment, prevent lodging, improve drainage in water logged areas and concentrate nutrients from top soil near the crop for easy access.
Variety and seed selection
Some of the good varieties include SAMSORG-14 (KSV-8), SAMSORG-17 (SK 5912), SAMSORG H1-4 (Hybrids), SAMSORG-40 (ICSV-400), SAMSORG-41 (ICSV-III), CSR 01 (Farafara Ex Kano), CSR 02 (Farafara Ex Katsina) and BES.
Planting date, time and methods
- Select good quality seeds treated with dressing chemicals before sowing.
- Such seeds are obtainable from reputable seed companies or their agents, research institutes and ADPs.
- The best time to plant is dependent on the days to maturity. This is to avoid maturing during rainy seasons which affects the grade of the grain/seed and the cooking qualities. In dry regions the crop should be sown as soon as the rain is established.
- The recommended seed rate is 10-13 kg/ha sown at 2.5-3.0cm deep at 75cm inter-row and 25cm intra-row spacing maintaining one plant per stand or hill.
- However, sometimes farmers may insist on wider spacing. In this case you then double the stand density to maintain the same population.
- Remember that optimum plant population leads to good harvest; however, this depends upon the size of the cultivars, the amount of moisture available, the fertility status of the soil, and the number of crops grown together (this is a general principle to all crops).
- The frequent growing of sorghum (same with millet and maize) on the same land often leads to a buildup of the parasitic striga weed population which may make further cultivation of the crop impossible. Hence, the practice of crop rotation is highly recommended.
- It is important to return crop residues of the previous year into the soil where sorghum is to be planted.
- It is also important to grow sorghum in rotation with legume crops to provide natural soil enrichment.
- Sorghum requires relatively less water compare to maize and rice.
- It requires and annual rainfall of 500-800mm.
Integrated soil fertility management
- Recommended fertilizer rate per hectare is 60 kg N, 30 kg P205 and 30 kg K2O per hectare is recommended for optimum yield.
- The fertilizer may be applied in one dose or split into two when soils are very sandy.
- Apply your fertilizer on moist but NOT wet soil.
- Do not apply when you anticipate rain as this may likely leach away your costly fertilizer.
- In many of the millet growing areas, weed population is not very intense; as a result, 2 hoe-weeding (2-3 and 5-6 WAS) should eliminate weed competition.
- However, herbicides such as Atrazine + Terbuthylazine @ 1.5-2.0 kg a.i/ha pre-emergence (3/4-1*MTMin 10 litre-Knapsack sprayer) can give very effective weed control.
- *MTM = Milk Tin Measure = 170 ml capacity.
Safety use and handling of pesticides
- Precautions must be followed to ensure safe use of pesticides.
- Even after use, the empty containers must be disposed very well by burying them.
- Instructions as stated on the label of the pesticide must be followed while only trained personnel should apply pesticide at recommended rate.
- The personnel should also wear protective clothing during application of pesticide.
Harvesting and Processing
Harvesting should be done when the grains are fully matured and dry.