History of Sorghum Improvement

Sorghum is an important cereal crop in hot and dry agroecologies, where it is difficult to grow other food crops. It has diverse uses as food, feed, fodder, fuel, fiber, and industrial crop. In India, it is grown during both rainy and post–rainy seasons with season specific cultivars. The Indian national program with exhaustive testing in coordinated trials has released over 31 hybrids and 25 varieties for commercial cultivation. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), with sorghum as one of the mandate crops, has developed parental lines to suit the needs of National Agricultural Research Systems in India and parental lines, hybrids, and varieties to meet the requirement of researchers and farmers in Africa. The Kaoliang of China offer tolerance to cold stress and their research program concentrates on biotic and abiotic stresses. In Africa, sorghum is grown under diverse ecologies predominantly with varieties tolerant to Striga. International Sorghum and Millet (INTSORMIL) and ICRISAT worked together to develop acid soil–resistant genotypes for growing in Latin America. In Australia, the main focus is on developing tolerant cultivars to sorghum midge and drought. In the United States, sorghum is grown in 14 states. The US Department of Agriculture and sorghum checkoff fund the sorghum research program for genetic enhancement of sorghum grown for feed, fodder, and fuel. INTSORMIL has projects in 20 developing countries in Africa and America and focuses on improving the production in these areas. In Europe, sorghum is cultivated for cattle feed, while broomcorn types are used for industrial uses in paper making. Thus, sorghum meets the diverse requirements of people across the globe and crop improvement programs are well placed catering to the needs of growers.