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Sorghum – an excellent green fertilizer for drylands

February 21, 2011

Dokmai Garden life time member Jeff Rutherford gave us some seeds of durra or sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor, Poaceae) which he got from Echo. The seeds germinated quickly in a pot in the nursery, and then we moved them out to the vegetable section, becoming species number 137 in that area.

Durra is a corn-like grass native to Ethiopia, and was introduced by the slaves to the USA where it later became a source of syrup. It can be used for making bread and even popped like pop-corn. It is well adapted to drylands, and is often a pioneer crop in new arable land. During the hot dry season in Central India and the Chiang Mai valley, durra would be a suitable crop. Even if you can not water, the plant can stay dormant. The root system is large, so after harvesting the roots decompose which brings organic matter deep into poor soils. It should be good for erosion control too. It takes about four months from seed to seed.

I harvested one tall stalk yesterday afternoon, and gave a piece to our wild boars Lala and Lolo. They ate it happily. I tasted the pith myself, but did not find it very special. I gave the rest of the stalk to our water buffalo Poi Fai, and he ate the leaves and licked the stalk, and then he returned back to mowing the lawn. I cut the leftover stalk in pieces and gave it to the wild boars which gratefully enjoyed this afternoon snack. According to a publication from the university of Missouri, young (less than 50 cm tall) or stressed plants may contain cyanide. Therefore you should only harvest old and tall stalks for your animals. The seeds are known to be popular among birds, so we should share them with our silver pheasants.

Lifetime and VIP members of Dokmai Garden can pick up seeds for free. Send us an e-mail so we can alert you when they are ready. Right now this ornamental grass is budding.

Durra in blossom at Dokmai Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. kamaruzaman permalink
    February 22, 2012 8:13 AM

    how can i buy some seeds of dura from dokmai Garden. can you sent to Malaysia

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