Dutch bred sorghum for temperate regions

From short day warm to long day cool

Sorghum (up to F9 available in 2014) was developed through breeding from the best performing introductions, since 2005. The aim was to develop prototype sorghums for the temperate regions with a long day. Photoperiod sensitive sorghum introductions were not able to head (short day requirement) in the Netherlands and when heading occurred it was associated with sterility or the seed was non-viable or poorly viable. Up to two crop cycles were realized within a year: one crop to select for adaptation in the Netherlands and one a counter season crop in South Africa.

Potential use of sorghum products

This Dutch bred sorghum can potentially be used for many commercial purposes (food and fodder, grain, sugar, syrup, biofual, porridge, beverage, beer, fencing, paper industry, alcohol, bioproducts, colorants, non-gluten grain, nematode suppressing crop). It can be used in all the various processes for bioenergy production – starch-to-ethanol, sugar-to-ethanol, and lignocellulose-to-bioenergy. It can be grown globally, in the tropics, in land – and Mediterranean climates. Now it can also move in the temperate areas and is superior in yield and quality to Sudan grass used as a fodder.


The locally developed sorghum lines produced viable grain (chalky white and different colored grains, no tan plants) that could be threshed and had measurable sugar development in the stem (Brix up to 27°), at Oostburg, in the Netherlands (51° 20’ NL, 3° 30’ OL, 1 m a.s.l.). At full maturity, sweet stem did occur from Denmark (average up to 16°), Germany (average up to 17°) and South Africa (average up to 17°). Plant height was between 1,5 up to 2,9 m. Stem thickness was between 0,6 and 1,3 cm. Further quality data and product data has been generated for different potential products from central Sweden to South Africa.

Yield and quality of sorghum lines

Below 2013 data from Louis Bolk Institute, the Netherlands, shows superior performance of sorghum compared to maize for Dry matter, raw protein, raw cell material, raw ash, and sugar. Data indicates that competitive starch production and VCOS are possible in a Dutch farmer’s field. Line 7 had a P-uptake of 96 kg/ha versus 88 for the hybrid maize. This indicates that sorghum can be a better crop to maintain or reduce P-levels with high P-applications –which may be of particular importance for dairy farmers.


This Dutch sorghum offers products to open new temperate markets for grain as well as biomass and in low output environments with drought prone -, low fertility -or salty soils. In this test, the lines outperformed hybrids of sorghum and sorghum Sudan grass of commercial companies. The author expects that this potentially new single-, dual-, or multi-purpose crop (grain, biofual, sugar, fodder, crop rotation to suppress nematodes, several valuable by products) will be economically competitive or better than: wheat, maize, oats and barley. It is a potential third crop for cattle farmers next to grass and maize (‘Louis Bolk Institute’, December 2014). Presently, there are a few hundred lines from F4 to F9, for the different purposes indicated. Based on the above production can immediately start with lines or delayed by production of hybrids.


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