Sweet sorghum

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Bioenergy > Feedstocks > Ethanol feedstocks > Sweet sorghum

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Sweet sorghum
Average yield: 110 tons per hectare for two cropping seasons in 8 months[1]
biofuel yield: {{{biofuel yield}}}
Content  ???
Water requirements:  ???
Soil preference:  ???
Harvesting:  ???
Harvesting season:  ???
Advantages:  ???
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Sweet sorghum is an African native plant. It is known as one of the world oldest crops and it is likely that African slaves introduced the crop to the United States in the 17th century.

Nutrient Value

Sorghum Grain: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=food+value+sorghum

Sorghum Syrup: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=food+value+sorghum&a=*DPClash.ExpandedFoodE.sorghum-_*SorghumSyrup-


Environmental Sustainability

Greenhouse Gases


Sweet sorghum is a highly competitive crop and can dominate over many weeds and other plants.


In general fertilisers inputs are: 30-60 kg/ha of P, 60-120 kg/ha of K, 150 kg/ha of N. Even though sweet sorghum is a very competitive crop, several herbicides are available to compliment cultural and mechanical practices.

Land Degradation

Nutrient needs of sorghum are similar of the ones of corn. Sorghum uses relatively large amounts of nitrogen and moderate amounts of phosphorus and potassium. The grain in a 100-bushel per acre grain sorghum crop removes about 100 lbs. of nitrogen, 14 lbs. of phosphorous, and 14 lbs. of potassium.

Social Sustainability

Ethanol is produced from the sweet juice available in the stalk of the crop plant. The grains can still be used for food and feed purposes. Sweet sorghum has a higher vitamin and protein content than honey and can be used for the production of syrup, flour, and a popcorn-like product called pop sorghum kernels.

Sweet sorghum is cheaper to produce than other comparable grains. In India for example, its cost of cultivation is about one-third that of sugarcane.

Projects Using Sweet Sorghum as a Renewable Energy Input Feedstock




Sweet sorghum is a drought resistant plant that needs only about 175 cubic meters of water per crop. This is not even one quarter of the average water requirement of sugarcane crop. Tillers and heads are produced over a longer time period and therefore short periods of drought do not seriously harm pollination and fertilization. In a longer drought, sweet sorghum produces fewer and smaller heads.

The waxy coating of sorgum foliage makes them resist drying and they lose a smaller percentage of their water content than, for instance, corn leaves. The planting season of sweet sorghum, at 100-115 days, is relativley short. The average yield for this period of time is varying between 95-125 tons.

Sweet sorghum has a very high sugar content, varying from 15 to over 20 percent. Maximum yields are achived at average temperatures of at least 80°F. Photosynthesis is best at day-time temperatures higher than 90°F. During planting time the sorghum seed needs soil temperatures of 60-65°F.





  • S. African Biofuel Plan May Boost Sorghum Sixfold, Grain Says, 12 December 2011 by Businessweek.com: "South Africa’s proposed mandatory blending of biofuels with gasoline and diesel may signal the start of a biofuels industry and boost sorghum output sixfold, an economist at the farmers’ body Grain SA said."
    • "The nation produced 155,000 tons in the last season, according to the Crop Estimates Committee. The average annual crop was 226,000 tons in the five years to 2006, according to a report on the National Agricultural Marketing Council website."
    • "A 2007 government proposal to establish a commercial biofuels industry was insufficient to attract investments. Sasol Ltd., South Africa’s largest fuel supplier, Ethanol Africa Ltd. and National Biofuels Group Ltd. canceled or delayed projects."
    • "South Africa could introduce mandatory blending of as much as 10 percent 'without compromising food security in terms of food availability,' he said."[1]


  • Sweet sorghum eyed as biofuel, 23 April 2011 by Mb.com.ph: "A group of international scientists and crops experts based in India agreed on Saturday to help boost the production of sweet sorghum in a province of the Philippines as an alternative source of energy or biofuel."
    • "The Indian experts will team up with Pemdas Energy Corporation, based here, and the Pampanga Agricultural College (PAC) for the planting and mass production of sweet sorghum."[2]
  • Biofuels Don't Threaten Food Security - Study, 30 August 2010 by Catherine Riungu: "'Crops can be produced for bioenergy on a significant scale in West, East and Southern Africa without affecting food production or natural habitats,' said the joint report by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, Imperial College London, and Camco International."
    • "'If approached with the proper policies and processes and with the inclusion of all the various stakeholders, bioenergy is not only compatible with food production; it can greatly benefit agriculture in Africa,' said Rocio Diaz-Chavez, the report's lead author and research fellow at Imperial College, London."
    • 'Bioenergy production can bring investments in land, infrastructure and human resources that could help unlock Africa's idle potential and positively increase food production,' she added."
    • "Among the report's findings is that there is enough land to significantly increase the cultivation of crops such as sugarcane, sorghum, and jatropha for biofuels without diminishing food production."[3]


  • Can Sorghum Solve the Biofuels Dilemma?, 13 May 2007 from WBCSD: A new crop that provides food, animal feed and fuel at the same time promises to help developing countries redirect money spent on oil imports to benefit their own farmers. Is sweet sorghum biofuel's "holy grail"?


Sweet sorghum is grown worldwide on about 44 million hectares in almost one hundred different countries. It is therefore the fifth most important cereal crop in the world. The major producers are the United States, India, Nigeria, China, Mexico, Sudan and Argentina.

External Resources

  • [7] - Sweet Sorghum Ethanol Association.





  1. http://biopact.com/2007/02/sweet-super-sorghum-yield-data-for.html

Tropical feedstocks for bioenergy edit
Bamboo (Charcoal) | Cassava (Biodiesel and Bioethanol) | Coconut palm (Biodiesel) | Jatropha (Biodiesel) | Nypa palm (Bioethanol) | Oil palm (Biodiesel) | Sugar cane (Bioethanol)
Bioenergy feedstocks edit

Biodiesel feedstocks:
Currently in use: Animal fat | Castor beans | Coconut oil | Jatropha | Jojoba | Karanj | Palm oil | Rapeseed | Soybeans | Sunflower seed | Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO)
Currently in research and development: Algae | Halophytes (Salt-tolerant plants)

Ethanol feedstocks:
First-generation: Cassava | Corn | Milo | Nypa palm | Sorghum | Sugar beets | Sugar cane | Sugar palm |Sweet potato | Waste citrus peels | Wheat | Whey
Second-generation: For cellulosic technology - Grasses: Miscanthus, Prairie grasses, Switchgrass | Trees: Hybrid poplar, Mesquite, Willow

Charcoal feedstocks: Bamboo | Wood
Waste-to-energy (MSW)


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