I am far too excited to write only one post about how the sorghum harvest went this year so please humor me and allow me to write two posts. You may recall that on a wild hair (or two hairs actually), I ended up buying two cane mills and planting sorghum this spring. The sorghum grew and I finally got around to fixing up one of the two mills. My brother and I finally harvested it last weekend.
But let me back up. The sorghum grew pretty well once it started growing. I planted a patch around 50’x50′ and it produced a lot of nice canes and beautiful red seed heads. But, of course, time got in the way and it did what sorghum does when you ignore it and don’t harvest when it needs to be harvested. It fell over (which is called lodging). I have read where it might be caused by a number of things but in the end, it adds difficulty to harvesting mechanically and may ruin the canes even if they can be harvested.
Luckily, we got into the field pretty quickly after it started so all of the canes were in good shape although we lost all of the seeds that I otherwise had planned to save and grind into sorghum flour. So, next year I will try to beat the lodging and save the seeds.
So, my brother and I took turns swinging the machete to cut the stalks at the ground while the other stripped leaves from the cane. The leaves aren’t harmful to the sorghum exactly but apparently they add a bitter taste to the finished sorghum syrup. I suppose we spent an hour or two harvesting the patch. It seemed like a small job but it turned out to be a lot more work than we expected. It’s also sticky and dirty work as the sugar content of sorghum cane is pretty high.
We tied the canes into my brother’s trailer and hit the road to my parents’ house around 4pm…their place is around 6 hours away so we rode sticky and sweaty and dirty and had a long day. The plan had always been to harvest and process the cane at our place so we could have an old fashioned neighborhood pressing party like they used to do a hundred years ago. We ran out of time though so decided to have a pressing party at my childhood home where we were planning to visit anyhow. Still, I was on the edge of giddy as I had my first crop of sorghum cane harvested!
I’ll write more in my next post about pressing and cooking the syrup that was in the cane. Harvesting, it turns out, was the easy part!