10 things you may not know about sorghum

Sorghum has been around for thousands of years and over this time period it has evolved from a crop with a single purpose to a multi-facetted grain famous for its gluten-free attributes and future in the ethanol world.

Here are some interesting facts you may not have known about this versatile plant:

  1. Sorghum was introduced to America in 1757.
  2. The name “sorghum” comes from Italian “sorgo”, in turn from Latin “Syricum (granum)” meaning “grain of Syria”.
  3. Sorghum ranks fifth among the most important cereal crops of the world, after wheat, rice, corn, and barley in both total area planted and production.
  4. Sorghum grain is higher in protein and lower in fat content than corn, but does not contain carotene as corn does.
  5. In the U.S. there are three main types of sorghum—grain, forage and sweet. Grain sorghum grows to about 5 feet and is used for livestock feed, biofuels, pet food and human consumption. Forage sorghum grows 6 to 12 feet tall and produces more dry matter tonnage than grain sorghum. Because of its coarse stem, it’s primarily used for silage. Sweet sorghum is harvested for its juice before the mature plant forms clusters of grain. The stalks are pressed, and the juice is fermented and distilled for the production of biofuels.
  6. Select varieties of sorghum bran have greater antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties than well-known foods such as blueberries and pomegranates, according to a new study from the University of Georgia.
  7. Grain sorghum is grown in over 66 countries, and the U.S. is the largest producer in the world. In the U.S., 46 percent of the sorghum grown is used as livestock feed.
  8. Sorghum can be grown in a wide range of soil and climatic conditions, and can thrive in arid areas.
  9. Sorghum produces 2.7 gallons of ethanol per bushel.
  10. Between 30 to 35 percent of domestic sorghum goes to ethanol production.