Sorghum in America

When introduced to the United States in the middle of the last century, sorghum was first cultivated on the Atlantic coast. By 1900, it had spread as far west as California. Today, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri are the leading producers. The crop's value now averages about $1.1 billion annually. Much is exported. In 1990, the United States shipped 7,239,000 tons of grain sorghum—almost half of all it produced. Japan was the largest buyer, followed by Mexico.

In the United States itself, grain sorghum is most commonly used as livestock feed. It is fed to cattle (both beef and dairy), poultry, pigs, lambs, horses, catfish, and shrimp. The grain has many industrial uses as well. It is used in foundry-mold sands, charcoal briquets, and oil-well-drilling mud. In addition, sorghum flour is used in the manufacture of plywood and gypsum to build houses as well as in the refining process of potash and aluminum. Some of the ethanol used to fuel American cars is made from grain sorghum.

Although it can be found from the Carolinas to California, sorghum is grown primarily in the Great Plains in the center of the United States. (One dot equals 2,000 hectares.)



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement