Sorghum sudanense (Piper) Stapf
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
- Chemical Analysis of Biomass Fuels
An important annual summer grass planted for pasture, silage, green chop and
hay. Importance of sudangrass is expected to increase with sorghum-sudangrass
hybrids yielding more forage than either parent. In the US Gulf States, the
hybrids are among the most popular summer annual grazing crops.
No data available.
Based on 169 analyses, Miller (1958) reports that DM in the dry forage ranged
from 78.195.0% (mean of 88.9%). On a zero-moisture basis, CP ranged from
6.523.0% (mean of 171 = 12.7), EE from 0.86.7 (mean of 170 = 2.2), CF
21.737.9 (mean of 171 = 28.9%), ash from 4.813.1 (mean of 171 = 9.6) and NFE
from 37.451.9 (mean of 46.6), Ca from 0.381.12 (mean of 28 = 0.56%), P from
0.200.93 (mean of 38 = 0.31), K from 0.882.74% (mean of 21=1.54), Mg from
0.310.77 (mean of 21 = 0.40), Fe from 0.0110.025 (mean of 16 = 0.017%), Mn
from 66155 ppm (mean of 19 cases = 93), and Cu 37 ppm, S 0.040.08% (mean of 5
= 0.06%), Na from 0.010.03 It (mean of 6 = 0.02), cobalt 0. 1 ppm, and
carotene 5.5 ppm. DM in the fresh or green roughage ranged from 8.435.4%
(mean of 95 cases = 21.8%). On a zero moisture basis, CP ranged from 4.123.2
(mean of 97 11.2%), EE from 1.45.0% (mean of 97 = 2.5%), CF from 18.142.6%
(mean of 97 = 44.3%), Ca from 0.320.67% (mean of 18 = 0.43), P from 0.180.79
(mean of 18 = 0.4), Cu = 36 ppm, K from 1.453.05% (mean of 10 = 2.14), Mg from
0.300.41 (mean of 11 = 0.35), Fe from 0.0130.060 (mean of 6 = 0.021%), Mn
from 36101 ppm (mean of 6 = 81), S from 0.03 to 0.20% (mean of 9 = 0.11%), and
Co 0.13 ppm, carotene from 53 to 219 ppm (mean of 14 cases = 182). Continuing
their studies that showed that grasses accumulate sucrose during the light
period, with lows (ca 13%) at ca 6 a.m. increasing until ca 6 p.m.when sucrose
may be 25 times higher Lechtenberg et al. (1973) report the following about
sudangrass: Sucrose concentration in sudangrass herbage varied from 1.8% of the
dry matter at 6 am. to 5.8% at 6 pm. Starch increased from 6.6 to 8.8% in the
same period. Half of the daily increase in carbohydrate disappeared between 6
P.M. and 12 midnight. The diurnal trends in leaves were similar to those
observed in herbage. Nitrogen fertilization (140 kg/ha) reduced the average
total carbohydrate concentrations from 16.6 to 14.8% but did not change the
magnitude of diurnal trends. Starch concentration declined from 9.9 to 5.9% of
the dry herbage and sucrose increased from 1.2 to 6.6% during the 16-day
sampling period. This change was more pronounced in N-deficient sudangrass.
Under certain conditions, this grass can develop lethal concentrations of HCN.
High levels of available soil N and low levels of P seem to increase the poison
(Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). Dhurrin is also reported (List and
Horhammer, 19691979). Nitrate poisonings and photosensitivities are also
Tufted annual grass with heavy tillering but no rhizomes; culms slender, to 3 m
tall, 39 mm in diameter; leaves numerous, up to 100 per clump, long, broad to
narrow; panicles open, twice as long as broad, 1575 cm long; spikelets not
easily shed making seeds easily collected; glumes (hulls) around seed-buds with
bristle-shaped tips, often purplish when in flower; bristles break off in
threshing; seeds pale yellow when ripe. Seeds 121,275/kg. Sudangrass only
develops fibrous roots and never becomes a noxious weed.
Reported from the African Center of Diversity, sudangrass, or cvs thereof, is
reported to tolerate anthracnose, disease, drought, fungus, grazing, high pH,
heavy soil, heat, laterite, sand, virus, and weeds (Duke, 1978). Harlan and
deWet (1972) suggest that sudangrass is a non-shattering segregate from a
hybrid or hybrids involving S. virgatum and a sorgo type of cultivated
sorghums. Several cvs have been developed with more disease resistance, more
leaves, sweeter stems, later maturity, and less HCN than common cvs.
Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids resemble sudangrass in habit, but are taller with
larger stems and leaves and generally better yields. Some cultivars are:
'Sudan 23' or 'California 23'; a heavy yielding strain suitable for irrigated
areas in the Southwest; 'Cumberland', widely adapted to Southeast US and
producing fine stems, long narrow leaves, spreading panicles, and high yields;
'Greenleaf', vigorous, leafy, producing many juicy stems, maturing later than
other cvs, producing high yields under favorable conditions, somewhat resistant
to leaf blight and anthracnose, resistant to some bacterial foliage diseases,
and best adapted to Central latitude of Midwest US; 'Piper' has good vigor,
early maturity, pithy stems, low level of HCN, some resistance to leaf blight
and anthracnose, developing more rapidly than 'Tift'; 'Tift' is rather leafy
because extra shoots grow from most of lower joints of stem, mostly pithy
stems, plant tan-colored, seeds mixture of chocolate and tan, matures slightly
later than other sudangrasses and is more disease resistant, best adapted to
humid southeastern US and parts of Texas; 'Wheeler' produces vigorous seedlings
and matures early, generally higher yielding than most common strains, but is
rather stemmy and susceptible to disease. (2n = 20)
Originally from the Sudan where it is a weed of cultivated land, and only
occasionally grown as fodder. Introduced from Africa to US in 1909, and from
US introduced to South America, Australia, South Africa, Central and North
Europe. In US grown mostly from southern Texas to Minnesota and North Dakota
in the central grassland regions.
Ranging from Cool Temperate Steppe to Wet through Tropical Very Dry to Dry
Forest Life Zones, sudangrass is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of
2.0 to 21.4 (mean of 37 cases = 9.8), annual temperature of 7.8 to 27.5°C
(mean of 37 cases = 17.4), and pH of 4.9 to 8.2 (mean of 32 cases = 6.6).
Sudangrass has a very wide range of adaptation, growing where summers are hot
with a fair summer rainfall. Crop is very drought-resistant. Plants grow
rapidly from late seeding. Not suited to cool humid temperate regions or to
more humid regions in subtropics and tropics. Most favorable temperature for
growth ranges from 2530°C, with minimum ca 15°C. Sudangrass does not
tolerate frost and is killed when the temperature drops to 35°C below the
freezing point. Grows well under irrigation in hot dry regions. Rarely grown
above 2700 m in southwest US, and less so farther north. Adapted to wide range
of soils from heavy clays (not cold and wet) to sands, but requires fertile
land to give heavy yields. Does not tolerate alkaline, saline, or solonetz
Sudangrass is an excellent seed producer in all but humid areas. Seed
broadcast or close-drilled. Low seed rates give as good yields as higher rates
because of heavy tillering. Rates vary in different areas: in US, dryland
planting, 2025 kg/ha broadcast, humid 1215 kg/ha broadcast or 38 kg/ha
drilled; in India, 1624 kg/ha broadcast or drilled; in Kenya, 2030 kg/ha
broadcast or drilled. When drilled in rows, spacing between rows may vary from
18 cm in Kenya to 90105 cm elsewhere. A firm seedbed is desirable. Seed
should be sown when soil is warm in late spring or early summer. Seeds may be
drilled to a depth of 13 cm. Seedlings emerge in less than a week when
conditions are warm and moist (Bogdan, 1977). Usually seeded alone in
low-rainfall areas; often combined with soybeans in more humid areas. Also
intercropped with cowpea and velvet beans. In India, often grown in rotation
with tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, and groundnuts. In Africa, may follow
groundnuts. In US, South Africa, and Australia, often precedes fallow or
leguminous crop. Fertilizer requirements of sudangrass similar to those of
annual grass crops or corn. Sudangrass grows rapidly; sufficient nitrogen at
planting time helps insure establishment and hasten development. On any soil,
some complete fertilizer is advisable for higher yields. Usual recommendation
per ha in the Northeast is 165275 kg of 10-10-10; in Midwest, 220330 kg of
3-12-6 or similar ratio, and in irrigated lands of the West, 3366 kg of
nitrogen. Phosphorus and potassium should be applied if deficient. Barn-yard
manure is useful also: In India ca 20 MT/ha is recommended. It also responds
well to sewage irrigaton. Hybrid sorghum seed are produced from female plants
that are male sterile, that is, the flowers of such plants do not produce
viable pollen, and so are not self-pollinating. Male flowers of another cv are
grown in rows alongside the female rows, thus providing the pollen for
producing the hybrid seed (Reed, 1976).
Crop should be rotation grazed with other pastures or divided into subdivisions
that are rotated. Sudangrass and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids are usually ready
for grazing 5 or 6 weeks after planting. Plants are palatable and readily
eaten at the early heading stage, but regrowth will be better when the crop is
grazed before heading starts. To avoid HCN poisoning, sudangrass should not be
pastured until it is 4560 cm high. When grazing is begun, stock sudangrass
heavily so it will be grazed down before heading starts. If fields reach 100
cm or more before livestock can graze them, crop should be harvested for
silage. For green chop, cut plants down to a 15 cm stubble, making the first
cut just before the heading stage to insure good regrowth. Highest hay yields
are obtained when crop is harvested with seed in the soft-dough stage. Because
curing is difficult at this stage, it is more practical to harvest at boot
stage when plants are 75100 cm tall. Use of a hay crusher will reduce drying
time and give higher quality hay. Feed value of good sudangrass hay is about
equal to that of millet, timothy, johnsongrass, and other non-legume roughages.
From 24 cuttings can be made per season depending on region.
Total DM production is highest when harvested at flowering stage, yielding up
to 27.5 MT/ha for sudangrass; 28 for sudangrass hybrids; and 27 for
sorghum-sudangrass hybrids. Fresh forage yields may exceed 88 MT/ha when
fertilized with 280 kg N and 140 kg P2O5/ha, yielding 60% more than
unfertilized controls. Even in Ukrania, sudangrass yields 30 MT green
forage/ha (Dyachenko, 1977). Though it is reported to fare poorly on solonetz
soils, Lazarchuk (1977) has obtained 1030 MT green forage, with drainage,
irrigation, and application of 10 MT/ha gypsum. Ostapov and Sidenko (1976)
reported that sudangrass yielded 51.4 MT fresh fodder/ha following winter
wheat, 49.6 following a wheat/oats/peas mixture, 44.8 following winter
wheat/maize, and 46.2 MT/ha following rye/vetch/ maize, while sorghum yielded
7.2, 6.3, 5.5, and 5.7 MT/ha respectively. Spring barley following the
sudangrass averaged grain yield of 2.5, 2.2, 2.0, and 2.0 respectively.
Multiple cropping decreased the yields of subsequent crops in Ukrania (Ostapov
and Sidenko, 1976). Dubenko and Yurchenko (1980) reported fresh fodder yields
of ca 40 MT/ha and hay yields of nearly 12 MT/ha in new cvs ('A-6', 'A-24') for
low rainfall areas, compared to 37 and 11 for the standard cv 'Mironovskaya'.
Given no fertilizer, sudangrass averaged ca 16 MT fresh fodder/ha and 220 kg
DCP (= digestible crude protein), given 40 MT FYM (farmyard manure) it yielded
19 MT fresh fodder/ha and 300 kg DCP. Given the manure plus 90 kg N, 60 kg
P2O5 and 60 kg K2O, it yielded 23 MT fresh fodder and 420 kg DCP (Kalashnikov
et al., 1980). In the Soviet Samarkand region, seed yields were 200220 kg/ha
and hay yields (in one cut) ca 15 MT (Safarov and Ismailov, 1980). Cv
'Penzenskaya Rannespelaya' gave seed yields of 12001500 kg/ha (Epifanov and
Odintsova, 1976). Forage yields for silage was 4045 MT/ha per season.
Average US seed yields are 6003,000 kg/ha; India, 250400 kg/ha; Kenya
5001,000 kg/ha. Seed, ripening unevenly, are best cut with binder in hard
dough stage and shocked, and threshed later when dry. Although good silage can
be made, grain sorghums and corn yield better. About 1,300,000 ha planted
annually in US.
According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981b), annual productivity ranges from
1 to 40 MT/ha.
Sudangrass suffers some insect and bird predation. Some cvs are partially
resistant to bird damage and seed is available in Kenya with bitter grain.
Fungi reported as attacking sudangrass include the following: Ascochyta
sorghi, A. sorghina, Blakeslea trispora, Cercospora sorghi, Cladosporium
graminum, C. herbarum, Colletotrichum graminicola, Darluca filum, Fusarium
avenaceum, F. equiseti, F. oxysporum, F. scirpi var. acuminatum,
Gloeocercospora sorghi, Hadrotrichum sorghi, Helminthosporium catenarium, H.
sativum, H. sorghicola, H. sudanense, H. turcicum, Macrosporium ornatissimum,
Phyllosticta sorghina, Phoma insidiosa, Puccinia purpurea, Pyricularia grisea,
Pythium arrhenomanes, P. dabaryanum, Ramulispora sorghi, Sclerospora
graminicola, S. sorghi, Sclerotium bataticola, Sphacelotheca cruenta
(Kernel smut), S. reiliana (Read smut), S. sorghi, (Loose smut),
Titaeospora andropogonis, Trichometasphaeria turcica, Uromyces cligyni.
Bacteria causing diseases on sudangrass include Pseudomonas andropogonis, P.
syringae, and Xanthomonas holcicola. Plants are parasitized by
species of Striga (S. lutea, S. hermonthica), and are sometimes used as
a trap crop. Striga can be a serious menace. Nematodes isolated from
sudangrass include the following: Helicotylenchus dihystera, Meloidogyne
incognita, M. incognita acrita, M. javanica, Pratylenchus scribneri, P.
zeae, and Radopholus similes.
Analysing 62 kinds of biomass for heating value, Jenkins and Ebeling (1985)
reported a spread of 17.39 to 16.31 MJ/kg, compared to 13.76 for weathered rice
straw to 23.28 MJ/kg for prune pits. On a % DM basis, the plant contained
72.75% volatiles, 8.65% ash, 18.60%fixed carbon,44.58% C, 5.35% H, 39.18% O,
1.21% N, 0.08% S, 0.13% Cl, and undetermined residue.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Bogdan, A.V. 1977. Tropical pasture and fodder plants. Longman, London.
- Dubenko, S.E. and Yurchenko, I.T. 1980. Reserves for Increasing yields of sudan
grass. Kormoproizvodstvo No. 4:32 (abstract only seen; CAB V82 (09)).
- Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 161. In: ASA Special
Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc. Agron.
- Duke, J.A. 1981b. The gene revolution. Paper 1. p. 89150. In: Office of
Technology Assessment, Background papers for innovative biological technologies
for lesser developed countries. USGPO. Washington.
- Dyachenko, P.A. 1977. Fodder mixtures for the green conveyer. Korma No. 5:4041
(abstract only seen; CAB HA 00960 (049)).C.S.I.R.
- Epifanov, V. and Odintsova, N. 1976. Sudan grass gives guaranteed fodder for
farms. Sellskoe Khozyaistov Rossii: Referativnyi Zhurnal 9(1):286 (abstract
only seen; CAB HA 04670 (046)).
- Harlan, J.R. and deWet, J.M.J. 1972. A simplified classification of cultivated
sorghum. Crop Sci. 12:172176.
- Jenkins, B.M. and Ebeling, J.M. 1985. Thermochemical properties of biomass
fuels. Calif. Agric. 39(5/6):1416.
- Kalashnikov, K.V., Matveenko, G.A., and Sorokin, V.M. 1980. Sudan grass in
fodder rotations. Kormoproizvodsto 9:33 (abstract only seen).
- Lazarchuk, N.A. 1977. Sudan grass on Solentz soils. Korma No. 5:41 [abstract
only seen, CAB HA 00880 (049)].
- Lechtenberg, V.L., Holt, D.A., and Youngbert, H.W. 1973. Diurnal variation in
nonstructural carbohydrates of Sorghum sudanense (Stapf) as influenced
by environment. Agron. J. 65(4):57983.
- List, P.H. and Horhammer, L. 19691979. Hager's handbuch der pharmazeutischen
praxis. vols 26. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
- Miller, D.F. 1958. Composition of cereal grains and forages. National Academy
of Sciences, National Research Council, Washington, DC. Publ. 585.
- Ostapov, V. and Sidenko, V. 1976. Catch crops with irrigation. Zemledelie 6:
5658 [abstr. only seen; CAB FCA 01892 (030)].
- Reed, C.F. 1976. Information summaries on 1000 economic plants. Typescripts
submitted to the USDA.
- Safarov, T. and Ismailov, S. 1980. Seed productivity of sudan grass in
Uzbekistan. Kormoproizvodstvo 2:39 (abstract only seen HA 51.2251).
- Watt, J.M. and Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G. 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants
of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd ed. E.&S. Livingstone, Ltd., Edinburgh
Last update Friday, January 9, 1998 by aw