• Open Access

Juice, sugar, and bagasse response of sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench cv. M81E) to N fertilization and soil type


Correspondence: Roland A. Y. Holou, Monsanto Company 800 North Lindbergh Blvd., Mail Zone Q4B/Q420E-A St. Louis MO 63167 USA, tel. + 1 574 349 5642, fax + 1 314 694 7787, e-mail: rayholou@yahoo.fr


The objective of this research was to determine the optimum nitrogen fertilizer rate for producing sweet sorghum (a promising biofuel crop) juice, sugar, and bagasse on silt loam, sandy loam, and clay soils in Missouri. Seven nitrogen fertilization rates were applied, ranging from 0 to 134 kg N ha−1. Regardless of the soil and year, the juice content of sweet sorghum stalk averaged 68.8% by weight. The juice yield ranged from 15.2 to 71.1 m3 ha−1. Soil and N rate significantly impacted the juice yield (P < 0.0001). The pH and the density of the juice were not affected by the soil or N. The sugar content (Brix) of the juice varied between 10.7% and 18.9%. N fertilization improved the sugar content of the juice. A negative correlation existed between the sugar concentration and the juice yield. In general, the lowest sugar content was found in the clay soil and the impact of the N fertilization on juice sugar content was most pronounced in that soil. The juice sugar yield ranged between 2 and 9.9 Mg ha−1, with significant differences found between years, N rates, and soils. N fertilization always increased the sugar yield in the clay soil, whereas in loam soil, a significant sugar response was recorded when the sweet sorghum was planted after corn. The average juice water content was 84% by weight. The dry bagasse yield fluctuated between 3.2 and 13.8 Mg ha−1 with significant difference found with N rate, soil, and year. When sweet sorghum was grown after soybean or cotton, its N requirement was less than after a corn crop was grown the previous year. In general, a minimum of 67 kg N ha−1 was required to optimize juice, sugar, and bagasse yield in sweet sorghum.