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Sorghum bicolor var. “sweet” (sweet sorghum)

The new hybrids

The recent discovery of male sterility in sweet sorghum by Prof. Li Dajue has facilitated the production of hybrids which have considerable potential for future small and large-scale exploitation. These have high sugar content and higher biomass than the conventional sweet sorghums. For more information on sweet sorghum see the EcoPort record and the Sweet sorghum training manual.

In 2007 I was employed by IFAD to help organize The Global consultation on pro-poor sweet sorghum development for biofuel production.

Brief description of sweet sorghum

It is a single-stemmed grass (a cereal) reaching a height of 1-5m. It is usually taller than grain sorghum, is drought and saline resistant, yields a very high biomass and can be grown on degraded soils where sugarcane is uneconomical. It is a versatile multi-use “4 F” species (as coined by myself and Prof. Li Dajue): – Food, Fuel, Fodder and Fibre. It can be grown as a grain, sugar, feed or an energy crop for making alcohol and electricity. An FAO project introduced technology to semi-arid regions of China for production of ethanol and fodder. The stem fibres are used for composites.

Sweet sorghum with the breeder Prof. Li Dajue

Sweet sorghum breeding trials pictured by me at the Beijing Botanic Gardens with the champion of sweet sorghum development, Prof. Li Dajue.

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