Growing and Saving the Seed Of Sorghum

Sorghum is native to Africa. It grows in more than 30 countries and feeds as many as 500 million people each year. This heat-loving grain is more popular in southern of the U.S. than northern ones, but as a gluten-free grain that can be made into flour and porridge, it is gaining steadily in popularity.



Sorghum originated in Africa and was brought to the U.S. by enslaved people. It was popular with homesteaders in the southern U.S., who pressed the stalks into a sweet syrup similar to maple syrup or molasses. Sorghum syrup was a dietary staple in the American South until the 1950s.


  • Grain milled for flour or made into cereals
  • Syrup
  • Animal fodder



  • Sow seeds directly into soil three to four weeks after the last frost date or when soil has warmed up to 60-65 degrees consistently.
  • Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep, one inch apart.
  • Thin to four to six inches apart in the rows. 
  • Seeds germinate in 4-10 days.




  • Straw mulch can be used, but sorghum grows quickly and usually shades out and out-competes weeds.
  • Sorghum is drought tolerant, but if leaves begin to curl in super dry conditions, give the plants a drink.
  • This is a care-free plant; it does not take much except heat to thrive.
  • Expect your plants to grow from 8 to 12 feet high.


  • Sorghum demands hot summer weather. Northern growers should look for short-season varieties.


  • Sorghum is wind-pollinated, but it will not cross with anything except other sorghum varieties. It is wise to grow just one variety a year to avoid contamination. Caging techniques may also be employed to avoid crossing varieties.
  • Allow seeds to dry on the plants.
  • They can be handpicked or harvested by cutting off the flower heads and placing them in a bag. To release the seeds from the chaff, use a rubber mallet or step firmly on the bag to crush the heads.
  • Seeds will remain viable for up to 5 years.