Site Selection and Land Preparation
- Select a site with fewer trees to minimize bird damage.
- The site should have well drained fertile soils and free from high humidity and strong winds during ripening period.
- In swampy sites sorghum should be planted on ridges to avoid water logging.
- Timely land preparation for sorghum production should be ensured (at least one month before planting) for better emergence and seedling development.
- Land may be prepared using a hand hoe, ox-plough or a tractor.
- It should be ploughed twice to obtain a fine field for better crop establishment and good yield.
- Tractor-ploughed land has to be harrowed to a fine tilth to achieve better crop emergency.
- In dry areas it is important to adopt cultivation practices which maximize moisture conservation and preventing soil compaction.
- In high sorghum producing areas the cereal is planted in flat fields where land is prepared using ox-ploughs.
- However, in areas prone to flooding or water logging sorghum should be planted on ridges.
- In Uganda most of the sorghum is planted in the second season (August-September) while some farmers plant in the first season (March-April).
- However, variation in planting time exists depending on the region and types of varieties grown.
- In the north and northeastern where unimodal rainfall and late maturing land races are grown sorghum is planted once in May and harvesting done in January the following year but in the southwestern highlands sowing is done mostly in December and January.
- It is advisable to plant timely at the onset of rains so that the crop reaches peak water requirement when adequate moisture is still available.
- Early planting also enables the crop escape drought and attack by the sorghum midge, stem borers and sorghum shoot fly.
- Most damage by shoot fly occurs within 14-20 days after germination, so spraying should be done within the first two weeks after germination.
Planting methods and seed rate
- Broadcasting is mainly practiced by farmers in Uganda.
- However, this method leads to wastage of seed and use of more labor for subsequent activities such as spraying, weeding and harvesting.
- The recommended seed rate is 10 Kgha-1 (4 kg ac-1) where 3-5 seeds are planted per hole under row planting.
- Row planting is strongly recommended for optimum yields and easy field operations such as weeding, bird scaring, harvesting, and also use ox-drawn equipment for weeding.
- Under sole row planting, a spacing of 60cm x 20cm for short varieties and 90 x 30cm for tall varieties is recommended to achieve optimum productivity.
- The sorghum may be planted in a mixed or sole cropping system.
- Most farmers practice sole cropping system while some farmers practice mixed cropping with cereals or legumes.
- Under mixed cropping, the sorghum-cowpea or sorghum-green gram intercropping systems, in a ratio 1 sorghum to 2 legume, are the most economically beneficial.