[permaculture] A promising crop family

Marimike6 at cs.com Marimike6 at cs.com
Sat Jul 21 12:41:43 EDT 2007


With the new century, climates in the United States, Europe and Africa are 
expected to get both hotter and drier. Already in the Southeast, your whole corn 
crop can fry on the stalk in a dryer than usual summer. Increasingly, in an 
arc stretching from Alabama through central Virginia,  I think farmers will see 
the stuff as being hardly worth the planting.

An excellent family of crop species to consider when replanting in these 
conditions is the sorghum family-- a.k.a. milo, millet, broom corn or a dozen 
other names, depending on the variety being grown and the use being considered.

Its uses are almost unending. Grain sorghums, milo or millets are mostly used 
for animal feed in this country, but are grown around the world as one of our 
most widely consumed staple human foods.

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/sorghum.html

Pearl millet, couscous, breads like injera, tortillas or roti, specialty 
flours for people with celiac or gluten problems or drinks both soft and hard 
barely scratch the surface of the hundreds of food uses possible with the grain 
varieties.

http://www.csaceliacs.org/library/sorghum.php

Then there are the sweet sorghums, useful for brewing up sorghum molasses and 
currently being eyed for ethanol production.

http://nariphaltan.virtualave.net/sorghum.htm

http://nariphaltan.virtualave.net/itmidx2.htm

Keep in mind the bagasse is also useful, for all the reasons any chaff is. 
Also, note that most varieties have more than one use-- for the grain, the juicy 
stalk, the spent mash, etc.

There's a lot of research going into new uses now.

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/nexus/Sorghum_nex.html

Here's a good article from Wikipedia:

http://www.csaceliacs.org/library/sorghum.php

The more you look into it, the more it looks like the "shmoo" of the crop 
world. You can eat it, drink it, plow it under for tilth, stick it in your gas 
tank, light your house with it, feed it to the hogs, make liquor from it or just 
hand it over to the cook in the house to figure out new uses for it.

And if you're trying to work some part of the country that's becoming more 
and more prone to killing hot, dry spells, setting aside some of your acreage 
for it might just be a way to pay the bills.   



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