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A jar of sweet sorghum

Sweet sorghum is any of the many varieties of sorghum which have a high sugar content. Sweet sorghum will thrive under drier and warmer conditions than many other crops and is grown primarily for forage, silage, and sugar production.

African slaves introduced the crop, which then was known as "Guinea corn," into the United Statesmarker in the early part of the 17th century. Sweet sorghum has been widely cultivated in the U.S. since the 1850s for use in sweeteners, primarily in the form of sorghum syrup. By the early 1900s, the U.S. produced 20 million gallons of sweet sorghum syrup annually. Making syrup from sorghum (as from sugar cane) is heavily labor intensive. Following World War II, with the declining availability of farm labor, sorghum syrup production fell drastically. Currently, less than 1 million gallons are produced annually in the U.S. Most sorghum grown for syrup production is grown in Alabamamarker, Arkansasmarker, Georgiamarker, Iowamarker, Kentuckymarker, Mississippimarker, North Carolinamarker, and Tennesseemarker. Sorghum syrup and hot biscuits are a traditional breakfast in southern Appalachia. Brian Ayres, an expert on Southern United Statesmarker cuisine, states that it is impossible to drink more than a few tablespoons of sorghum molasses without respite.

In the U.S. since the 1950s, sorghum has been raised primarily for forage and silage, with sorghum cultivation for cattle feed concentrated in the Great Plainsmarker (Texasmarker, Kansasmarker, and Nebraskamarker are the leading producers), where insufficient rainfall and high temperature make corn production unprofitable.

Madhura sweet sorghum syrup sold in India

Sweet sorghum syrup is called "molasses" or "sorghum molasses" in some regions of the U.S., but the term molasses more properly refers to a different sweet syrup, made as a byproduct of the sugarcane or sugar beet production.

Grain sorghum has been utilized by the ethanol industry for quite some time because it yields approximately the same amount of ethanol per bushel as corn. As new generation ethanol processes are studied and improved, sorghum's role may continue to expand.[99884]

In Indiamarker, and other places, Sweet Sorghum stalks are used for producing bio-fuel by squeezing the juice and then fermenting into ethanol. Texas A&M Universitymarker in the United States is currently running trials to produce the best varieties for ethanol production from sorghum leaves and stalks in the USA.

Sorghum festivals in the U.S.


  1. I^ Ayres, Brian. "Southern American Cuisine." Lecture Transcripts: History 1 3 2003 2-3. 26 Mar 2009
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