Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Agricultural Engineering


The source and exact date of the introduction of grain sorghum into the United States has not been agreed upon, but it is generally agreed that it was sometime during the middle of the nineteenth century. The taller cane varieties were widely grown for syrup, sugar, and forage, but the strictly grain varieties were not accepted into the grain belt region until the 1950’s. It was at this time that the shorter varieties, those which could be harvested with a conventional combine, were sufficiently improved to compete with corn as a grain crop. Grain sorghum’s characteristics; being more resistant to drought than corn, responding well to irrigation, producing yields which correspond to those of corn, and being more resistant to the corn root-worm than corn, have made good arguments for raising it as a corn replacement. Grain sorghum also has a feed value which is competitive with that of corn. The one inherent disadvantage of grain sorghum is that, being a member of the grass family, the seed does not dry to any great extend until a killing frost or some artificial means has stopped plant growth. As a result, the plant dries out as rapidly, if not more rapidly than the grain. Any high velocity wind occurring just prior to the grain maturity can cause tremendous lodging due to the weakened stalk which must support the heavy, filled grain head. At present in a highly mechanized agricultural system, such as found in the United States, this trait has created serious harvesting problems. One way of solving the problem of lodging is to harvest early at high moisture content. This is acceptable in many areas, but in some areas such as Central South Dakota many farmers are of the opinion that they cannot justify the expense of drying equipment and instead wait for the sorghum to mature naturally. If a machine or header attachment could be developed which would decrease losses under normal conditions, many farmers would plant more acres of grain sorghum.

Library of Congress Subject Headings





South Dakota State University