Cover Image
close this bookBetter Farming Series 15 - Cereals (FAO - INADES, 1977, 51 p.)
close this folderSorghum and millet
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSorghum
Open this folder and view contentsMillet


Sorghum is a tall cereal, more than 2 metres high.

Its stem has long leaves.

At the top of the stem is the spike.

Sorghum plant

Spike of sorghum

The spike contains the sorghum grains. Their colour is white, black, yellow or red.

Sorghum grows in savanna country that is not too dry. It needs about 1 metre of rain a year.

Sorghum likes light soil that lets rain run through, that is, permeable soil.


Sorghum is sometimes called "great millet" because it has rather large grains.

· There are several very different varieties of sorghum:

· Grain sorghums These are the kind most grown in Africa. They yield grain for human food.

· Sweet sorghums The stem contains a sweet liquid. They are grown in equatorial Africa and Northern Cameroon.

· Broom sorghums These have very large spikes, like a broom.

· Fodder sorghums These are cut when still green for animal feeding.

· Each of these varieties includes several kinds that ripen at different times.

· Early sorghums ripen 80 to 110 days after sowing.

· Medium early sorghums ripen 115 to 130 days after sowing

· Medium late sorghums ripen 130 to 145 days after sowing.

· Late sorghums ripen about 190 days after sowing.

Some kinds of sorghum are preferred for human food, others for making beer.