Die Bodenkultur - Journal for Land Management, Food and Environment

F. J. Zeller:

Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench): utilization, genetics, breeding


With a production of about 68 million tons per year sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop worldwide. It orginated in the north-eastern quadrant of Africa, where high genetic variability in wild and cultivated species is found. In this area, sorghum was first domesticated by selection from wild species between 8.000 and 10.000 years ago. By means of altering the genetic control of flowering and short-stature and by improving the tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress factors sorghum was adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. Almost the entire sorghum area in developed and in some developing countries is occupied by hybrid varieties where yields have greatly increased in the time since hybrids were introduced. Further progress toward higher grain yield, adaptation to mechanized harvesting, tolerance to drought stress, resistance to the Striga parasite, diseases and insects as well as improvements in quality can be expected in the future by utilizing the broad genetic variability present in the crop. Key words:  Sorghum species, origin, domestication, cytogenetics, genetic variability, resistance, hybrid cultivars.