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EFN Perennial Grain Sorghum Project
Sorghum is a wonderful plant, producing a variety of crops: gluten-free grain, miniature popcorn, sweet syrup, biomass, silage, and even brooms. Most varieties are annuals, but there are a few tropical perennial sorghums, and some folks have managed to hybridize annual grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor subsp. bicolor) with cold-hardy wild perennial Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense). These rare perennials provide the basis for this collaborative effort.
At this stage of the project, most volunteers will be sent an important sorghum variety to be multiplied and kept pure, and/or tested for perenniality in your climate (it may be a perennial type or an annual). Others will be sent both an annual and a perennial type in order to attempt to cross them (or possibly two perennials or two annuals).
The three perennial strains being utilized initially are ‘Kapupu,’ a tropical grain-type sorghum from Zambia; ‘M61,’ a grain-type sorghum believed to be selected from a grain sorghum crossed with wild Johnson grass (from plant breeder Tim Peters); and 'Coral', a large-seeded grain and cane variety from Malakal, South Sudan, which is normally grown as an annual, but according to one EFN volunteer grower is growing as a perennial is Los Angeles. Various annual types are being utilized.
Participants are encouraged to post questions here. Private questions or concerns can be emailed to Nate at [email protected]
As a farmer and plant breeder, Nate is primarily interested in utilizing agriculture as a tool in the fight against climate change -- while at the same time working to preserve crop biodiversity, restore ecosystems and wildlife populations, and further the cause of social and economic justice for farmworkers and all people. He speaks on food justice, agroecology, participatory plant breeding, climate change, and other issues at conferences and events around the United States.
Nate's favorite food plants include mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum), maypops (Passiflora incarnata), chinquapin chestnuts (Castanea pumila), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), 'Nanticoke' squash (Cucurbita maxima 'Nanticoke'), 'Sehsapsing' corn (Zea mays subsp. mays 'Sehsapsing'), 'Tracy' rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum), red & white currants (Ribes spicatum), cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata), seakale (Crambe maritima), garlic (Allium sativum), and sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas).