"Sorghum 101" - Crop Good for Food, Feed, Fuel


Call it sorghum or call it milo, it could be the wonder crop of the future. It produces gluten–free flour and it can be used for ethanol. So what's keeping production from taking off?
Corn is profitable, so it can be an uphill battle to convince farmers to try something different. But some are convinced sorghum's potential is almost limitless. As John Dvoracek explains, the grain he holds is great in cookies, especially for those on a gluten free diet. That's because it's not wheat, but sorghum. "You do not have to be celiac disease or food allergy to enjoy wholesome goodness of sorghum," said Barbara Kliment, Executive Director of the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board. Research shows it may lower bad cholesterol and raise the good. Kliment said, "If I have my way about it, I would like to see sorghum become as common on grocery store shelves as rice or dry edible beans or barley, any other grains like that." It's so versatile, it can be used as livestock feed or turned into ethanol using varieties that grow more than ten feet tall. Dvoracek said, "Brazil uses sugar cane to make ethanol from the stalks of sugar. We can have the same amount in forage sorghum here, require much less water." But corn is still king in Nebraska, and makes farmers profitable thanks to developed markets that sorghum lacks. Kliment said, "There's no question we face some challenges in that regard."
So it's time to re–educate farmers, with what Kliment called "Sorghum 101" and let growers know this isn't their grandfather's crop. Dvoracek said, "They think of it 30 years ago when it was itchy crop, some people call it a weed or whatever it is, and it's come a long ways last few years and we have a lot of things in the future."
John has more than 50 varieties planted near Farwell, which the Sorghum Board hopes is the beginning of a revival of what they see as a crop for the times. "As we look at restrictions on water use, prolonged drought, those things and interest by ethanol industry to purchase sorghum, there's really a lot of exciting market opportunities," Kliment said.
There are several field days taking place this week.September 17 - HazardSeptember 18 - TrentonSeptember 19 - Orleans, Blue Hill
Contact your local University of Nebraska Extension office for more.