History and economic importance. Sorghum locally knowns as jowar or Chari belongs to the Gramineae family. This is a very important and useful summer fodder crop, generally thought to have originated in Africa though other sorghum species appear to be native elsewhere. Sorghum is one of the oldest cultivated cereal: it has been cultivated in Egypt since 2200 B.C. several types and varieties have been grown for centuries in India, china and Africa. Now it is raised as fodder in irrigated areas and as grain in dry tracts in Pakistan. Sorghum is economically the most important of the kharif fodder crops. It provides palatable green fodder over a longer period than maize and bajra . do. Its green fodder contains 12% protein, 70% carbohydrates, minerals, nitrogen-free extract, and crude fat. It is well liked by all kinds of animals.
Climate and soil. Basically, sorghum is a tropical plant, but it has i adapted to climatic conditions in the temperate zone. It possesses a great deal of adaptability to various types of climate and soil conditions. It can withstand heat and drought better than maize, and so it is widely cultivated in the semiarid regions of the world. In the rainfed areas of Punjab, D.G. Khan, Mianwali, Jhelum, and Rawalpindi, it is cultivated for grain; while in the irrigated areas it is mainly planted for fodder. In Sindh, it is extensively grown in Dadu, Jacobabad, and Sukkur Districts. The major growing areas in NWFP are D.l. Khan and Mardan. Two areas of Balochistan, Sibi and Loralai, have considerable acreage under sorghum.
With the exception of saline and waterlogged soils, sorghum grows on all types of soils, but heavy, loamy soils are most suitable for it. It prefers a hot, dry climate for luxuriant growth and does not do well at higher altitudes and in areas with high summer rainfall.
Seedbed preparation and manuring. This crop requires a good seed- bed, which can be prepared with one ploughing with a mouldboard plough followed by two ploughings with a cultivator along with planking. To increase fodder yield, 2 1/2 bags of DAP with 1 1/4 bag of urea per hectare should be added at planting, and another 1 1/4 bag of urea at the first irrigation.
Seed rate and method of sowing. The optimum seed rates per hectare are 75-80 kg for fodder and 20-25 kg for grain. Fodder crops are usually sown by broadcasting, but sowing in 30 em apart lines by the para method gives a better return. It is recommended that seed crops be seeded in rows spaced 60 em apart.
Sowing time. In Punjab, sorghum is sown for fodder from March to August; for grain, planting in June-July is recommended. In Sindh, it is sown in June for both fodder and grain. It is generally sown during June and July in NWFP. Rainfed crops are planted at the onset of the monsoon. In Balochistan, it is planted during July and August in the plains areas.
Interculture and weeding. Fodder crops do not require interculture. If grain crops are planted in rows, they should be given one hoeing. Removal of weeds from grain crops improves the yield.
Irrigation. About three or four irrigations should be given to the March-June crop, and one to two irrigations to the monsoon crop depend- ing upon the amount of rainfall.
Pests and diseases. Two pests, shootfly and borer, inflict serious dam- age to the crop. For effective control of these pests with both grain and fodder crops, apply 3% Furadon granules @ 25-30 kg/ha at sowing or with the first irrigation.
Red leaf spot is the most serious disease. The seed needs to be treated . with Vitavex or Benlate @ 2 g per kg of seed. The crop should be irrigated lightly, especially during the period when the disease develops.
Time of harvesting. The best time for harvesting fodder is at the 50% heading stage, as the fodder tastes good at this stage and is free of toxins.
Cultivars. Two important cultivars are ‘JS-263, and ‘Pak-SS-II’. ‘JS-263’ is tall and sweet-stemmed, whereas ‘Pak-SS-II’ is medium-tall and non-sweet. The promising new lines ‘Hegari’ and ‘JS-88’ are tall, sweet- stemmed, and high-yielding.