Culture of sorgo. Page: 4
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of soil, although some of the roots extend
3 or 4 feet or more downward.
When the soil is moist for long periods
of time, tough brace roots may develop
from nodes that are considerably
above the surface; those from the lower
nodes may help to anchor the plant to
When the plants are 3 to 6 inches
tall, some of the buds at nodes below
the soil surface develop into shoots
that later become secondary stalks, or
tillers. In early stages these tillers
can be distinguished from initial stalks
by the fact that they grow out
obliquely. Later they grow upright
and develop independent root systems.
At this stage they cannot easily be distinguished
from the initial stalks.
They are as good as the initial stalks
for sirup making, but they mature a
few days later.
Initial stalks and tillers put out short
side branches from their upper nodes
when the seedhead (panicle) fails to
develop normally or when harvesting
is delayed after the seed are ripe.
These side branches may grow 12 to 15
inches long and produce small seedheads.
Side branches should not be
used for sirup production, but their
presence on the plants does not decrease
the yield or quality of sirup.
CHARACTERISTICS OF SIRUP SORGO
The desirable characteristics of sorgo
varieties for sirup production are: (1)
Ability to produce a high yield of medium
to large stalks per acre; (2)
strong, erect habit of growth, not readily
lodging during storms; (3) a high
percentage of extractable juice; (4)
juice having a high total soluble solids
(Brix) content, mostly sugar; (5) resistance
to disease; (6) ability to produce
a high-quality sirup; and (7)
comparatively short growth period.
Varieties differ greatly in these qualities,
and in their adaptation to soil and
climatic conditions. The grower
should carefully consider all these qualities
in his choice of a variety.
Varieties used for sirup production
vary in stalk characteristics and po
tential ability to produce a high yield
of stalks per acre. A good variety
should yield stalks that are large in
diameter and vigorous enough to reach
a good height and develop the maximum
number of tillers. Varieties that
do not tiller freely usually produce low
yields of stalks. Tillering is also influenced
by the condition of the soil
and by cultural practices, such as row
spacing and planting time. It is therefore
subject to some control by the
Lodging of stalks increases the cost
of harvesting, which is a major expense
in producing sorgo sirup. A
good variety should resist lodging.
Lodging may be due to: (1) Inherited
weakness of the stalks that causes them
to bend to a horizontal position prior
to harvesting, (2) severe disease infection
that weakens the stalks by destroying
their internal tissue, or (3)
caving over of the entire plant, which
may be influenced by varietal weakness
of the root system, poor cultural practices,
insect damage, or high wind during
The percentage of juice extracted
depends primarily upon the juiciness of
the stalks and the milling equipment.
Most of the available commercial varieties
have adequate juiciness. In general,
the small mills used to crush sorgo
stalks consist of three rollers propelled
by animal or motor power. Such mills
give satisfactory results when properly
adjusted. Simple extraction tests to
determine the set of the rollers can be
made by weighing 100 pounds of stalks,
passing the stalks through the mill, and
weighing the juice extracted. The
weight of the juice is the percent extraction.
A good sirup variety will
yield at least 55 percent of juice in such
Sirup yield is determined by the total
soluble solids (Brix) content of the
juice. A good variety should have a
high content of total soluble solids in
the juice. Varieties differ widely in
their potential ability to produce such
juice. The total solids content may
be influenced adversely by diseases and
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Stokes, I. E.; Dean, Jack L. & Coleman, Otto H. Culture of sorgo., book, 1957; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6267/m1/4/: accessed January 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.