It’s not corn. It’s sorghum.


Ever wanted to know more about sorghum*, besides wondering if it’s a dental disorder?

I didn’t either, until I found some growing in my yard.  I’ll point out that my yard is located much closer to city skyscrapers than to any fields in Kansas, Texas or Nebraska, the top producers of sorghum in the U.S. 

A few months ago, we thought we were growing corn. What appeared to be a corn stalk poked out from the bad soil between our yard and our neighbor’s in an area where only weeds have had success in the past. Coming so late in the season, we were sad that it would never have time to grow as high as an elephant’s eye, and since the weather is cooling, would likely linger for another month at its current height of two and a half feet.

Hours of gazing at small photos of corn stalks on the internet led me to conclude that while our plant has leaves like a corn plant, it’s not corn. 

In an attempt to be encouraging, a neighbor, who’s grown corn herself, suggested we might be growing feed corn for livestock (useful for a neighborhood with many small dogs and one orange cat), or possibly something we could pop and slather with butter.  But it’s neither. What’s appeared most recently is not silk, but growths that look like feather dusters of tiny seeds. 

Sometime this year, I read a headline that said, “Sorghum making a rebound in Europe thanks to climate change.” That news meant nothing to me a few months ago, but today it’s bristling with significance.  

The European sorghum is thriving because of warmer, dryer weather. This past summer set records for hot, dry weather on the West Coast of the U.S. Our thermometer hit 108 in June. Wherever the seeds for our plant came from—a windstorm blowing in from the Midwest or a bird dropping— they found the right climate to thrive in for 2021.

The last time neighbors congregated on our block was to watch the power company install two new street lights. Having already had conversations about our plant with a few neighbors, it appears our sorghum has the potential to become another roadside attraction. The local bird population already shows keen interest and may help build a flourishing local crop starting in 2022.

*Sorghum is a grass grown originally in Africa and used for animal feed, alcohol production and a biofuel. (Wikipedia)


About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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8 Responses to It’s not corn. It’s sorghum.

  1. Sharon Howard says:

    So great. Nice the birds help your garden


  2. Betina says:

    Yay. Glad it made the cut for one of your posts. I walk by and check on it daily now.

    • stillalife says:

      Hi Betina,
      After my most recent pre-corn post I decided I would devote my blogs to humor writing, because those lead to the most comments. I’m even taking a short class from Hugo House in November on the topic. But it’s soooo hard to come up with a topic. I’ve been toying with the corn idea but couldn’t think of anything to say. Your encouragement forced me to sit down and work on it. Thanks and I’m glad you’re keeping an eye out on it.

  3. Eleanor Owen says:

    Your opening sentence make me laugh outload. Love it. Keep them coming.

    Scientists are predicting continued warming of the planet boding well for your starter crop of sorghum. With a little luck, in a year or two you could have enough stalks to crush into a mash and ferment it into sorghum wine or, better yet, distill it in sorghum alcohol.

  4. Darlene Bishop says:

    Loved your blog—humorous and a bit of information for the day—perhaps we can use it on Trivia night somewhere. If I lived in your neighborhood, I’d definitely be keeping an eye on your little sorghum plant.

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