While corn ranks at the top of the list as a waterfowl food, sorghum will not disappoint incoming flocks, either. The new hybrid varieties of sorghum are capable of producing yields similar to corn that provide food for ducks on their migration.
Over the past decade, sorghum has gained more attention from large seed companies to produce higher yields. In fact, the newer varieties are capable of producing yields between 100 and 150 bushels per acre, almost three times previous yields. But sorghum is not necessarily a new crop, either. Sorghum bicolor, often referred to as milo, has always served the world as an important agriculture crop from ancient cultures of the Middle East to modern-day civilizations across the globe. Nigeria, India, Mexico, and the United States are the top producers worldwide, growing over 66 million tons on 175,000 square miles of land.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, sorghum is the fifth most-important crop in the world and the third most-important in the U.S. High in protein and carbohydrates, sorghum is a nutritious crop in a small package, and it is actually more nutritious than corn. While it is low in fat, its calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and protein levels are notably better than traditional field corn fed to deer and other wildlife.
Generally, sorghum is planted in the spring and early summer when soil temperatures are above 60 degrees to get the best germination. Most of the new hybrids are longer maturing varieties that take approximately 100 to 130 days to fully mature, but the longer maturation period allows the plants to grow larger, denser and produce the highest seed yields.
Waterfowl impoundment owners looking to provide sorghum seed for their waterfowl flocks need to get their crop planted this month. If planted much later, the sorghum may be susceptible to the first fall frost before seed heads are fully mature.