How to Plant Sweet Sorghum

Overview

Sweet sorghum is grown for the high moisture and sugar content in its stalks or canes. It has a lower grain content than grain sorghum, but the growing requirements are similar. The principal product made from sweet sorghum is sorghum syrup. In nearly all cases, it is made with antique machinery using old methods of production. Sorghum syrup is sold and consumed at sorghum festivals throughout the southeast region of the United States. Sweet sorghum is also grown as a broad-leafed annual ornamental grass in the garden.

Step 1

Choose a well-drained area of the garden that is in full sun. Some sweet sorghum varieties grow to 16 feet tall and 3 feet wide, so plan your space accordingly.

Step 2

Take a soil test to find out if you need to add any soil amendments to the soil for best growth or if you need to adjust the pH level. The best way to take a soil test is to contact your county agricultural extension office and ask for assistance. Your county extension office will also have information on growing items such as sweet sorghum and the variety that grows best in your soil conditions and climate.

Step 3

Clear the area of all weeds and grasses using a shovel and hoe. Sorghum does not tolerate competition well, so remove all weeds and vegetation. Incorporate any recommended soil amendments into the top 5 to 6 inches of soil. Rake the area smooth.

Step 4

Check the temperature with soil thermometer. Plant the sweet sorghum seeds when the daytime soil temperature is 65 degrees F at a depth of 4 inches. Plant the sweet sorghum seeds at a depth of 1 inch in sandy loam and clay soil and 1 1/2 inches in sandy soil. Plant seeds 8 inches apart in rows 36 to 42 inches apart.

Step 5

Water the area after planting to settle the soil and encourage the seeds to germinate. Sweet sorghum should grow without additional irrigation during a normal spring. Provide supplemental water if the weather is unusually dry. Sorghum will stop growing during dry weather and resume growth when favorable conditions return.

Things You'll Need

  • Sweet sorghum seed
  • Soil test results
  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Rake
  • Soil thermometer

References

  • Mississippi State University: Sorghum Production in Mississippi
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension Services: Sweet Sorghum Culture and Syrup Production
  • Purdue University: Sorghum--for Syrup

Who Can Help

  • USDA: Cooperative Extension System Offices
Keywords: sweet sorghum, planting sorghum, sorghum growing

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.