proteins and other nutritional ingredients. Unless the grain is a low-tannin (yellow or white) type or unless brown seed coats are carefully removed, some tannins remain, and this reduces sorghum's nutritional effectiveness.

Yet a third problem is that when sorghum grain is germinated, a cyanogenic glucoside is formed. In the shoots, enzymes act on this to produce cyanide. This is a potential hazard only with germinated sorghum, and not with the grain itself.


Botanical Name

Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench


Sorghum vulgare Pers., S. drummondii, S. guineense, S. roxburghii, S. nervosum, S. dochna, S. caffrorum, S. nigricans, S. caudatum, S. durra, S. cernuum, S. subglabrescens.

Common Names

China: kaoliang

Burma: shallu

East Africa: mtama, shallu, feterita

Egypt: durra

English: chicken corn, guinea corn

India: jola, jowar, jawa, cholam, durra, shallu, bisinga

South Africa: Kafir corn

Sudan: durra, feterita

United States: sorghum, milo, sorgo, sudangrass

West Africa: great millet, guinea corn, feterita

Middle East: milo


Sorghum comes in many types. All, however, are canelike grasses between 50 cm and 6 m tall. Most are annuals; a few are perennials. Their stems are usually erect and may be dry or juicy. The juice may be either insipid or sweet. Most have a single stem, but some varieties tiller profusely, sometimes putting up more than a dozen stems. These extra stems may be produced early or late in the season. Plants that tiller after the harvest has occurred can be cut back, allowed to resprout, and grown without replanting (like sugarcane).

Soil permitting, the plant produces a deep tap root (see picture, opposite). However, a large number of multibranched lateral roots

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