Of Peduncles and Pannicles

The date is May the 26th and the soil temperature has finally gotten above 60 degrees F. I have been waiting to get these seeds in the ground so I can get on with the grand experiment.

First to find a place to plant them, getting water to them could be a problem, but “they say” these plants don’t need irrigation. Well, maybe not if you live where it rains, at all, during any part of the year. However here on the Tyhee flats if it aint irrigated, it don’t grow. I also read that this plant can be grown in “marginal” soil. Check!

I decided to further experiment by planting each variety in a different spot, which is recommended if you don’t want cross pollination. And planting each in a different orientation. so I planted the black amber variety in rows north to south. This plot I also did a bit of soil prep with compost and a harrow. The rows I furrowed with a hoe and dropped the seeds by hand and stepped them in. I then tried using an Earthway seed planter with some beet seeds to try and calibrate for the other variety. It did not like the coarse texture of the compost augmented soil.

seedbed for black amber sorghum

Next was the Cane Sugar variety. I used the Earthway seed planter set to 3/4 inch depth and using the plate intended for beet seeds. I did not plant these the recommended number of feet apart so cross pollination will likely occur. This bed I oriented east to west and having about twice the number of seeds as the black amber I decided to plant 4 rows after I ran all of the beet seeds out of the planter. I did not harrow or compost the soil which left it as “marginal” as possible.

seedbed for Cane Sugar sorghum

What Happens next will astound you! (totally not click bait)

For the next 10 days I checked everyday to see if there was ANY sign that they would grow, then on the 5th of June… There they were! Not only did the sorghum sprout, but the beet seeds which were packaged for use in 2015 were coming up too! The beets have been delicious by the way, I only used them to try and calibrate the planter, but that they grew is still boggling my brain.

New sorghum sprouts, are they really there? So small

Fast forward a couple of months (almost) I have a few observations, but first the pictures…

Black Amber Monday Jul 26
Cane Sugar Monday Jul 26
Today July 28 2021 first seed head

I know that there is still a ways to go until I can harvest either the seed or the cane or the leaves. The seeds will be for next years crop and to see if this is a sustainable feed for the chickens and ducks.

The leaves of course will be fodder for the goats. The cane if I can figure out how to press it without a press will be processed for syrup and the spent cane for goat fodder as well. We still have to get there though and the weather this year is not cooperating. We have not had a significant rain for about 2 months, so I have to constantly irrigate this and the hay fields. The variety that was composted is doing so much better, both need more water than they are getting.

When I planted, the seed plate I used was way off and through a bit more research I think I have a better one. For the Cane Sugar variety nearly all of the seed was “dumped” in the first half of the first row. I did manage to move a few of the canes, but growing in unimproved soil has not given them a very good start. I’m not sure I want to thin them as much as I think they need, I hate killing plants that are growing even if it will help the remaining ones.

Well, this seems to be quite long and I think I will end this article here. I will try to keep this updated

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