Sorghum as a forage crop. Page: 3
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SORGHUM AS A FORAGE CROP.
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS AND ORIGIN.
There are comparatively few plants that will flourish under such
widely different conditions of soil and climate as sorghum. The tendency
to vary, which enables it to adapt itself so readily to different
conditions of environment, has produced an almost endless number of
varieties, differing chiefly in lhabit of growth, character of the seed,
degree of sweetness, and length of season required in which to reach
maturity. There are two main groups of these varieties, separated
largely in common practice according to the character of the juice or
sap. One group, the sweet or saccharine sorghums, containing a considerable
amount of sugar, the other, the nonsaccharine sorghums,
containing comparatively little of this substance. The varieties of the
first group are cultivated chiefly for the manufacture of sugar and
molasses, while those of the second group are cultivated principally for
forage and grain. One variety, broom corn, is grown for the manufacture
of brooms and brushes. The varieties of the first group form the
subject of this paper.
Sorghum is supposed to have come originally from equatorial Africa.
At the present time some of its many varieties and forms are cultivated
more or less extensively in all the warmer regions of the earth. In
some countries, notably parts of Asia and Africa, it is one of the principal
sources of the food supply for both man and beast.
Sorghum was first grown in the United States in 1855 from seed
obtained in China. Two years later Mr. L. Wray introduced fifteen
varieties, which he had collected in southern Africa. Since then many
new varieties have been introduced from various foreign countries, and
many more have been originated by growers here in the United States,
until at the present time they are so numerous and the names are so
much confused that it would be useless to attempt anything like a complete
enumeration of them here.
EXTENT OF CULTIVATION IN THE UNITED STATES.
Since its introduction into this country some forty years ago, the cultivation
of sorghum has spread very rapidly. At first it was grown
almost entirely for the manufacture of sugar and molasses, but its
Value as a forage crop was soon recognized by many farmers, and for
the past fifteen years or more it has been extensively grown for that
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United States. Department of Agriculture. Sorghum as a forage crop., book, 1897; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6329/m1/3/: accessed February 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.