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Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I, Grains
and selected members of the Bothriochloeae and the Sorgheae also seem possible. Crosses between subtribes might be possible if certain members of Chrysopogon and Capillipedium were used.15
American researchers are currently performing experimental crosses between sorghum and johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense), a perennial forage that has already introgressed with sorghum to become a pernicious weed in the United States. It is hoped the grain qualities of sorghum can be united with the rhizomatous habit of johnsongrass to create a powerful new perennial cereal.
Recently, crosses between sorghum itself and its sudangrass subspecies (Sorghum bicolor subspecies sudanense) have produced hybrid grasses with outstanding vigor. Their productivity and performance have boosted even more the acreage and overall yield of forage sorghum, a main part of the livestock-grazing industries of America and Argentina. They also promise to help in reclaiming salt-affected lands (see next chapter).
It has long been known that sorghum can be crossed with sugarcane. Chinese researchers now report developing a hybrid between the two that contains more sugar and produces more stalk and grain than either parent.16 Research along these lines might turn up fascinating new resources of undreamed-of usefulness.
These speculations were put forward decades ago by Robert P. Celarier, who was thinking in terms of clarifying taxonomic relationships in the subtribe Sorgheae. However, the economic potential of these man-made crosses might be substantial.
S. Wittwer, Y. Yu, H. Sun, and L. Wang. 1987. Feeding a Billion. Michigan State University Press. Such a cross might prove a method for boosting sorghum's grain yield. In a sorghum flower, only one spikelet of each pair is fertile. In sugarcane and its relatives, both spikelets of a pair are fertile. Moreover, this trait can be transferred to sorghum, at least at the tetraploid level. See Gupta et al., 1978.