Sorghum climatic requirements

Sorghum was probably domesticated in Ethiopia about 5000 bp. It spread to West Africa and later into Asia, but only reached the New World with the slave trade. Sorghum is perhaps of special importance to world food security. It produces useful yields of grain under conditions within tropical climates where most other cereals would fail. It tolerates hotter and drier conditions than the other major cereals and is generally now limited in Africa to areas too hot and dry for maize (Doggett, 1988). The optimum temperature for growth is about 30°C. It is killed by frost and is even less tolerant of chilling temperatures than maize (Long, 1999). Because both maize and sorghum are short-day species, tropical cultivars may fail to flower in temperate regions (Doggett, 1988).

Fig. 6.1. Changes in (a) the global area planted and (b) average global yields for maize and sorghum over the 1961-1998 period. (FAO, 1998.)

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