Sorghum Cultivation Naturally for Higher Yield

Sorghum millet on the plant.

Sorghum cultivation is gaining traction as it is a staple food source and is resilient to drought and heat.

Additionally, sorghum millet is highly sought after by consumers with gluten intolerance due to its gluten-free grain.

With its increasing use as an animal feed source, as well as its potential in biofuel production, its demand is high.

Proper cultivation of sorghum requires a thorough understanding of the growth and development, which is essential for maximizing yields.

Sorghum farming in a natural way

Sorghum cultivation by natural methods aims to avoid synthetic chemicals and rely only on nature-friendly materials.

Sowing of the seeds

Collect suitable seeds at a rate of 10kg per hectare and mix them with trichoderma viridae (at a rate of 10 grams for 1 kg of seed) as a means of seed treatment.

This trichoderma powder can be obtained from offline or online sources and has to be applied to the seed at least one hour before sowing.

This helps the seed and crop gain moisture and nutrients from the soil and, at the same time, protects it from soil-borne pathogens.

Weed control and irrigation

If the soil is sufficiently moist during sowing, there would be no need for irrigation until 20 to 30 days of the crop.

In such a case, it would be good to till the soil immediately after sowing with a blade to remove weeds and prevent the weeds for a month.

If the soil is dry while sowing, then irrigate the land after 3 to 4 days for faster emergence of seedlings.

Sorghum Growth Stages

To effectively manage a sorghum crop, one should understand the different stages of growth and development.

These stages serve as markers for implementing appropriate management practices.

The growth stages of sorghum can be identified based on the number of leaves and specific plant characteristics.

Emergence Stage

The emergence stage occurs when the sorghum plant breaks through the soil surface, typically 3 to 10 days after planting.

Sorghum seedling on 7th days after sowing
Sorghum crop after 7 days of sowing

Factors such as soil temperature, moisture conditions, and planting depth influence the emergence rate.

During this stage, the plant relies on seed nutrients and reserves for growth.

To promote successful emergence, it is essential to time planting to coincide with warm temperatures and ensure proper weed control.

Three-Leaf Stage

The three-leaf stage is marked by the development of three fully expanded leaves.

Leaves are counted when the collar, where the leaf blade and sheath attach, is visible without damaging the plant.

At this stage, the plant’s growth rate depends on temperature, and it is crucial to ensure optimal growth conditions.

Weed control becomes important during this stage, as slow growth and poor weed control can significantly impact yield.

Five-Leaf Stage

Approximately three weeks after emergence, the sorghum plant reaches the five-leaf stage, with five fully expanded leaves.

Rapid root development occurs during this stage, and the plant becomes more competitive against weeds.

Adequate nutrient and water supply are critical to maximize growth and development during this period.

Growing Point Differentiation

Sorghum crop on 40th day of sowing
Sorghum crop after 40 days of sowing

Around 30 days after emergence, the growing point of the sorghum plant transitions from a leaf-producing tip to a reproductive tip from where the bloom arises.

The total number of leaves has been determined, and the potential size of the head is about to be established.

This stage is crucial for nutrient uptake, and the plant becomes highly competitive against weeds.

Flag Leaf Stage

During the flag leaf stage, the final leaf, known as the flag leaf, becomes visible in the whorl. Most of the leaves are fully expanded, providing maximum leaf area for photosynthesis.

The plant’s growth rate continues to be rapid, and nutrient uptake remains essential. Weed control should be maintained to ensure optimal conditions for growth.

Boot Stage

At the boot stage, the head of the sorghum plant has developed to nearly full size and is enclosed in the flag-leaf sheath.

The peduncle, or the flower stalk, starts elongating to exert the head from the sheath.

Adequate moisture and nutrient supply are crucial during this stage to prevent poor head exertion and incomplete pollination.

Half-Bloom Stage

Jowar boot stage

Half-bloom is typically reached when half of the plants in a field or area are in some stage of bloom.

It is important to note that individual sorghum heads flower from the tip downward over a few days.

At this stage, grain formation begins, and the potential for grain size is determined.

Adequate nutrient supply and favorable environmental conditions are essential during this period.

Soft-Dough Stage

Immature seeds formed on sorghum crop
Sorghum crop after 70 days showing a soft dough (newly formed jowar seeds)

During the soft-dough stage, the grain rapidly fills, with almost half of its dry weight accumulated.

The stalk weight slightly increases, but the grain’s growth causes a net decrease in stalk weight.

Nutrient uptake remains rapid, and any limitations in plant growth, leaf area, or plant numbers can significantly impact yield.

Hard-Dough Stage

By the hard-dough stage, approximately three-fourths of the grain’s dry weight has accumulated.

Nutrient uptake is essentially complete, and severe moisture stress or freezing conditions can result in light, chaffy grain. The stalk weight reaches its lowest point during this stage.

Physiological Maturity

Physiological maturity marks the maximum total dry weight of the plant.

The time to reach physiological maturity varies depending on the hybrid and environmental conditions.

At this stage, the grain moisture content is typically between 25 and 35 percent. Harvesting should be done at the appropriate moisture content to ensure optimal yield.

Nutrient Uptake in Sorghum

Understanding the nutrient requirements of sorghum plants is crucial for achieving maximum yields.

Nutrient uptake precedes dry matter accumulation, as nutrients are necessary for growth and development.

Nutrients like Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are critical requirements of the sorghum plant.

During the early growth stages, nutrient uptake is rapid, emphasizing the importance of providing adequate nutrients during this period.

As the plant progresses through the growth stages, nutrient uptake rates vary.

Potassium uptake occurs at the highest rate, followed by nitrogen and phosphorus.

It is important to note that a significant portion of nitrogen and phosphorus, but only a small portion of potassium, is translocated from other plant parts to the developing grain.

This translocation can lead to nutrient deficiencies in the leaves and premature leaf loss if there is an inadequate supply of nutrients during grain filling.

Irrigation

Sorghum needs atleast two the three water supplies either through rain or manual irrigation method.

This way, one can prevent the crop from drying and also form healthy seeds, resulting in better output.

Fertility

One can use biofertilizers for growth enhancement of sorghum. The application of oil cakes like neem cake, castor cake, or any other aids organic carbon and other nutrients required by the crop. Also, one can use seaweed algae for fertility enhancement along with the same foliar application.

Disease and pest control in sorghum

Sorghum can be affected by different diseases and pests. But of them, stem borer is the most common.

This can be controlled by the use of lures or traps and by spraying spinosad SC 45%, a natural pesticide.

This pest affects the plant from the initial stages and continues up to harvest. If not controlled, it can lead to significant losses.

Conclusion

Sorghum cultivation offers numerous benefits, including its resilience in arid regions, gluten-free grain for consumers with gluten intolerance, and potential as a biofuel source.

Understanding the growth stages of sorghum and its nutrient requirements is crucial for maximizing yields.

By implementing appropriate management practices in the sorghum field at each stage, farmers can optimize their sorghum crop’s growth and development, leading to successful harvests and increased profitability.

Sorghum’s resilience and drought tolerance make it a staple food source in arid regions.

The gluten-free grain of sorghum is highly beneficial for individuals with celiac disease.

Sorghum’s potential as a biofuel source has sparked increased interest in its cultivation.

Adequate nutrient supply and favorable environmental conditions are crucial for maximizing sorghum yields.

Frequently asked questions and answers.

Which parts of the sorghum crop can be sold?

Sorghum crops can be sold for both the grain and the leftover plant material as fodder for cattle.

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