Sweet Sorghum

Sweet sorghum is a cane-like sorghum with high sugar content. Sweet sorghum will thrive under drier conditions than sugarcane. The stem juice of sweet sorghum is rich in fermentative sugar and is a desirable alcoholic fermentation material.

The goal of our research is the development of an efficient multipurpose crop to provide an alternative source of syrup or alcohol, food and feed/fodder (“stay green” varieties) in Haiti.  We can grow the food and the fuel together (the grain for food, the cane juice for fuel and whatever left as fodder)

Our program aims at the (1) evaluation, breeding, release and dissemination of such improved Sweet Sorghum varieties in Haiti (2) establishment of appropriate agronomic and crop management practices for use in Haiti.

Sweet Sorghum vs. Sugar cane

  1. Sweet sorghum is a multipurpose crop (ethanol or sugar/ grain / fodder) while Sugar cane is single purpose (ethanol or sugar)
  2. Sweet sorghum is more water efficient (requires much less water than Sugarcane)
  3. Given present Sugarcane yields in Haiti, Sweet Sorghum would be, with the same low agricultural input, much more productive (ethanol/ha) and cheaper to produce than Sugarcane.

Breeding and evaluating improved sweet Sorghum varieties

We aim at the development of sorghum genotypes producing high stalk sucrose concentrations and biomass, while producing stable grain yields of good quality.  Stay-green will be introduced to increase drought resistance and insure a “juicy” stem until grain maturity in order to facilitate the extraction of the juice.  Stay-green will also increase the leaves and residue values as fodder. 

On a longer term, we will also seek the development of perennial sweet sorghum varieties (with Rhizomes). This would allow growing hybrids without having to buy the seeds every year.  Perennial Sweet sorghum varieties would also allow the stabilization of soils on the slopes of Hispaniola contributing to the fight against erosion.


Dekabès harvest
 Industrial trials
Research prorities:

       Breeding new multipurpose sorghum varieties: pedigree selection + recurrent selection using ms3 male sterility.  Breeding for open pollinated varieties and for grain yield (> 4 ton/ha under low input conditions); for > 3000 gallons of juice per ha, for brix > 17; For good foraging quality of the bagasse.

       Breeding for a long period of industrial use (long period in which stems are juicy and sweet AFTER grain maturity) ; studying the stability of sugar yield after and before grain maturity

       Starch and sugar accumulation in the stems ; relation with alcohol qualty (organoleptic quality)

       Characterization of traits involved in spirit quality

       Impact on soil fertility

       Optimization of harvest

       Studying the conditions for success of this new market / value chain

       Forage or silaging…  bagasse or whole plant (without grain) – nutritional quality of silages and forages

       Sorghum malt, pop-sorghum and development of new products (variety trials for these new products)

       Production, conservation, and seed treatment


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