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  • Soil texture
    crop soil texture
    Sandy to medium heavy soil
  • Min. temperature
    crop temperature icon
    12 – 14 °C soil temperature
  • pH
    Sorgum crop pH value
    5 - 8
  • Water demand
    Sorgum crop rainfall value
    400 – 600 mm
  • Vernalisation
    Sorgum crop vernalisation
  • Plant density
    crop density
    25 - 35 grains / m2
  • Seeding Depth
    crop seeding depth
    2-4 cm
Sorghum
The cultivation of sorghum is gaining importance in Europe. Sorghum is a high yielding crop with a high potential for biogas production but also for human nutrition and animal feed (silage). The biomass potential is very high with a yield potential of more than 20 tonnes dry matter per hectare. 
On a global scale, sorghum is the 5th most important crop for food. The highest grain yields are achieved in Europe with 10 tonnes per hectare. Sorghum is a good alternative to maize, in areas with precipitation too low for maize or areas with heavy infestation of root worms.
Key facts
  • The good root systems facilitates an efficient water- and nutrient uptake.
  • The soil temperature should exceed 12 °C at drilling

  • The nutrient demand is similar to that of maize.

General Information
General Information
Nutrient demand
Nutrient demand
Fertilization
Fertilization
Good drought tolerance but low cold tolerance

Sorghum originates from Africa and has similar requirements to maize, but with a very low water demand and high heat tolerance. The dense and deep root system efficiently extracts water and nutrients from the soil and the plants are capable of regenerating after severe drought stress and wilt. 

The field should be free of weeds, due to the relatively slow development of young plants. The required soil temperature of 12 to 14 °C is reached relatively late in the year.

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The nutrient demand of sorghum is similar to that of maize, Sorghum requires less nitrogen but more potassium. However, sorghum has a high capacity to extract nutrients. A fertilization of 100 to 150 kg N, 60 to 80 kg P2O5 and 180 to 220 kg K2O per hectare is in most cases appropriate.
Demand and exported nutrients of sorghum (28% DM, silage)

Element

Uptake

(Unit/t of production)

Removal

(Unit/t of production)

Sensibility to deficiency

N

4.1

4,1

Sensitive

P₂O₅

1,8

1,8

Sensitive

K₂O

4,8

4,8

Sensitive

MgO

0,4

0,4

Moderately Sensitive

TE

The table shows uptake and removal of nutrient per tonne of fresh matter sorghum (DM 28%). A yield of 45 tonnes per hectare removes 185 kg N, 80 kg P2O5 and 216 kg K2O per hectare.

The required nutrients can be applied before planting, however, nitrogen fertilization of more than 100 kg per hectare needs to be split. A potassium rich NPK fertilizer usually covers the supply of the main nutrients. The remaining nitrogen should be applied up to four-leaf growth stage. 

A NP-fertilizer placed near the roots, accelerates the early development. Organic fertilizers must be incorporated into to soil in order to avoid nitrogen volatilization.

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First application

First application image

Second application

Second application image

First application

The entire nutrient demand can be supplied using an appropriate NPK formulation. Nitrogen fertilization exceeding 100 kg/ha should be split into two applications. The fertilization is based on offtake and supply from the soil. The high potassium demand can be covered partially by organic fertilizers.

Second application

The second application supplements nitrogen if the demand exceeds 100 kg/ha. Splitting of the nitrogen fertilization is particularly recommended on light soils. The N top dressing should not exceed the four-leaf growth stage.