The Seed Saving Network

Sorghum - Bicolour

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Sorghum bicolor


Story: Sorghum is a maize-like grass grown primarily for its grains. The sorghum we're sharing has small white, pearl-like grains, just peering out of maroon husks. The grains are used in both South Asia and East Africa to make flat breads, they're a staple crop in both regions, known for their impressive drought tolerance. It also makes a fantastic popcorn alternative! Our sorghum did uncharacteristically well for the UK in the hot, dry summer of 2022. 

When to sow: Sow in root trainers or deep pots in March-May indoors.

Requirements: Harden off once all chance of frost has passed and then plant out in moist soil- though plants will tolerate dry conditions as they grow- give each plant around 30cm space on all sides

Harvesting: When the plant is mature, the husks will be white in a maroon casing, make sure to harvest in a relatively dry period and then hang to dry in a place with good ventilation.

Growing for Seed: The flowers of Sorghum are mostly self-fertile. There is a small chance of cross pollination by wind. For this reason it is best to grow just one variety of sorghum to avoid any cross pollination (unless you can provide a distance of 100ft between varieties).

Seed Saving: Allow the grain to become fully ripe on the plant – the colour usually changes as it ripens and the grain begins to dry out. Birds find it delicious at this point so it may be worth covering ripening grain heads with mesh bags. Once the heads of grain are full and quite dry, harvest the heads by cutting the stem just below the grain head on a dry, sunny day. Leave these to dry by hanging for a week or two more in a well ventilated space. Them crumble the seeds from the stem. Package, label and date. Just one head should give thousands of seeds, send as many seeds back to the SSN as you can.

Please remember, if you’re an individual grower you can order up to 3 packets of seeds. If you order more than this, you will receive just three packs to begin with. This is to ensure we get plenty of data in return and to keep our stocks sustainable for years to come.* 

*Community groups and Experienced Growers can order larger quantities, please email us if this is the case.

If an item is out of stock we will send a close alternative.