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Sorghum Belt

When I heard that I was going to be taking photos of row crops, my mind automatically jumped to cotton and corn. To find out it was cotton and sorghum, I was a little embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t sure what sorghum was. Right before I drove out to the field, I googled to find out what it was and what it was used for. I read that sorghum has been around for thousands of years and over this time period it has evolved from a crop with a single purpose to a multi-faceted grain famous for its gluten-free attributes and future in the ethanol world. As we drove into the field, I started to notice the liveliness of the sorghum field. The seeds glistened in the setting sun and the redness of the crop was so bright and inviting. When we stopped, I was eager to start shooting but that is when I heard my professor say, “you will find out soon if you are allergic or not!” I was hesitant but decided to venture into the tall sorghum field. I immediately started to itch so I turned back and jumped onto what I think was a well. I stood over the sorghum field and captured this image. The light was incredible that night and the sorghum gave me a new meaning of the term “golden hour”. I finally saw the good light in that very field.

Here are some interesting facts you may not have known about this versatile plant:

1. Sorghum was introduced to America in 1757.

2. The name “sorghum” comes from Italian “sorgo”, in turn from Latin “Syricum (granum)” meaning “grain of Syria”.

3. Sorghum ranks fifth among the most important cereal crops of the world, after wheat, rice, corn, and barley in both total areas planted and production.

4. Sorghum grain is higher in protein and lower in fat content than corn but does not contain carotene as corn does.

5. In the U.S. there are three main types of sorghum—grain, forage and sweet. Grain sorghum grows to about 5 feet and is used for livestock feed, bio-fuels, pet food and human consumption. Forage sorghum grows 6 to 12 feet tall and produces more dry matter tonnage than grain sorghum. Because of its coarse stem, it’s primarily used for silage. Sweet sorghum is harvested for its juice before the mature plant forms clusters of grain. The stalks are pressed, and the juice is fermented and distilled to produce bio-fuels.

6. Select varieties of sorghum bran have greater antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties than well-known foods such as blueberries and pomegranates, according to a new study from the University of Georgia.

7. Grain sorghum is grown in over 66 countries, and the U.S. is the largest producer in the world. In the U.S., 46 percent of the sorghum grown is used as livestock feed.

8. Sorghum can be grown in a wide range of soil and climatic conditions and can thrive in arid areas.

9. Sorghum produces 2.7 gallons of ethanol per bushel.

10. Between 30 to 35 percent of domestic sorghum goes to ethanol production.

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