How to Plant, Grow, and Save Seeds from Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor)
Sorghum is grown for beer-making, syrup production, and for their edible grains. Some varieties of sorghum, such as broom corn, are used for crafts.
Sorghum is a heat-loving plant. It grows best in climates with long summers. Many gardeners do not direct sow their sorghum until mid-May or even early June. Direct-sow sorghum seeds ¼” deep 8-12” apart. Seeds will germinate in 4-10 days.
Protect your sorghum crop from predation by birds by covering maturing seed heads with bags or pieces of row cover.
Harvest sorghum grain when the seeds can no longer be dented with a fingernail. Cane sorghum should be harvested before the first frost by cutting down stalks with hedge trimmers or a very sharp knife.
Eating and Storing
Sorghum has numerous uses in the kitchen. Sorghum seeds can be cooked as a grain and enjoyed in dishes that call for brown rice or barley. The seeds can be popped like popcorn. Sorghum flour is also used in breads and other baked dishes. Some varieties of sorghum were bred for their stalks, or canes, which produce a sugary liquid. This liquid can be pressed and boiled down to produce sorghum syrup.
Sorghum is an annual crop. It will complete its full life cycle, including germination, reproduction, and death, in one growing season.
When saving seeds from sorghum, separate varieties by 100-200 feet. You only need to plant one sorghum plant in order to harvest viable seeds. To maintain a variety over many generations, save seeds from between 10-25 plants.
Sorghum seeds are best harvested when they feel dry and resist denting when you press them with a fingernail. Seeds are easily threshed by rubbing seed heads by hand or by stripping the seed stalks. The seeds may still be inclosed in their casings, or glumes, after threshing, but this does not impact saving and storing seeds. Seeds can then be screened and winnowed.
When stored in cool, dark, and dry conditions, sorghum seeds will remain viable for 10 years.