Sorghum is a genus with many species and subspecies, and there are several types of sorghum, including grain sorghums, grass sorghums (for pasture and hay), sweet sorghums (for syrups), and Broomcorn. The focus of this species page is on Sorghum bicolor ssp. bicolor, or grain sorghum.
Grain sorghum and maize (corn) are comparable in costs of production and in nutrition, therefore the growing environment is the largest determining factor for choosing which to grow. Grain sorghum requires less water than corn, so is likely to be grown as a replacement to corn and produce better yields than corn in hotter and drier areas, such as the Southern US, Africa, Central America and South Asia (1, 2, 8, 10). One study showed that when corn required over 30 inches of water, sorghum required less than 23 inches (7). However, in cooler areas corn is probably a better option for production, based on yield.
Sorghum is used for human nutrition all over the world (2, 6, 7, 10). Globally, over half of all sorghum is used for human consumption (7). It is a major crop for many poor farmers, especially in Africa, Central America, and South Asia (10). Grain sorghum is used for flours, porridges and side dishes, malted and distilled beverages, and specialty foods such as popped grain (3, 10).