Despite originating in northern Africa, wild cane (Sorghum bicolor), a summer annual, can now be found in countries all over the world, including India, Mexico, and the United States. Due to its ability to grow in a wide range of temperatures and can easily recover from droughts, you may run into wild cane while performing lawn maintenance and weed control.
Often compared to stalks of corn, without the ears, wild cane can reach heights of up to 10 feet and frequently grow in clumps. The coarse, thick stalks have wide blade-shaped, reddish-tinged leaves that whirl out in an arc around the stalk. The leaves and stems have a waxy coating that provides protection from drying out during a drought. When the leaves wilt, they roll in, allowing the weed to go into a dormant state for the duration of the drought.
Wild cane is used for both human and animal food by cultivating its grain. Currently, it is the world’s fifth most important cereal crop. It’s interesting to note that the grains of wild cane can be popped, much like popcorn. Cultivating the grain also makes it a useful component of ethanol production, as well as biofuels.
Eliminating Wild Cane
As a quick-growing grass, wild cane, as well as other members of the sorghum family, can smother other weed populations and crowd out lawns. In this case, it can be killed with the use of certain herbicides, as well as by tilling the land or running it over with a flail mower. Lawn services that offer a weed control program will need to use the proper pre-emergent weed control products to prevent this weed from infesting a lawn.
Wild cane can be susceptible to a variety of fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases. If this occurs, it may be necessary to contact an agriculturalist to determine the exact cause and what should be done to remedy the situation.