Species | Rice | Maize | Wheat | Barley | Oats | Foxtail Millet | Pearl Millet | Rye | Sorghum | Wild Rice | Brachypodium | Oryza Species | Grape | Arabidopsis
Plant physiologist Leon Kochian (right) and Cornell University support scientist Jon Shaff analyze compounds released from sorghum roots. Photo courtesy Scott Bauer @ ars.usda.gov.
Most sorghum research has focused on quality improvement rather than yield, and the environment plays a large factor in both issues (6, 10). Research has been minimal because growers are mostly poor subsitance farmers growing their own food rather than growing for economic reasons. However, with world population increasing it is becoming essential to make the most of what land and water resources are available for growing food, as well as to reduce consumption of the available fossil fuels. With improvements, sorghum can become the "Global Grain of the Future" because of it's efficiency in utilizing resources and it's market opportunity as an energy resource (6).
Future research opportunities include creating better yields in stressful and low-input environments, development of production control techniques (general education on production), nutritional improvement such as increased digestibility and protein quality, and ethanol production (2, 6, 10). Private industry research already focuses on grain quality for meeting the needs of modern society, including snack foods, alchol production and non-gluten foods (7, 10). Diseases are usually not a problem with sorghum unless there is high rainfall and humidity, but pests cause significant damage. The most destructive pests are birds, who consume the grain. Other pests include corn earworms, aphids, and moth larvae. Resistance to striga, which are parasitic plants, is also a major area of need (2, 10).
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