Egyptian Wheat (Sorghum)
Revised September 2018
Egyptian wheat, also called shallu and chicken corn, is a productive late-maturing grain sorghum that produces large heads with lots of seed. Wildlife, especially quail, doves and squirrels, like it and deer will occasionally eat the seed heads. Incentives to expand wildlife habitat from state and federal conservation programs, as well as extra revenue from leasing farm ground for hunting, offers income potential for producers to grow this sorghum for the value-added agriculture marketplace.
Several characteristics make it ideally suited as a food and cover plant. Unlike other grain sorghums, Egyptian wheat is not prone to damage by flocks of blackbirds. Its spindly seed heads prevent blackbirds and other relatively large birds from perching on the upper stems to eat the seeds. The tall plants provide cover where wildlife can feel safe from predators. It is also an ideal place to hide young birds.
It was introduced into the United States from India about 1890. Researchers with the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station were among the first to grow and test the plant. It proved inferior to other grain sorghums as a grain and cattle forage crop, so it was abandoned for this use in favor of other sorghums.
The U.S. harvested 5.045 million acres of sorghum in 2017 (USDA, ERS). Farmers received an average price of $3.22 per bushel (USDA, ERS). Sorghum is utilized primarily as a livestock feed.
The grain is high in protein, and the wheat can be freestanding or mixed with other food plot varieties.
Food of the Pharaohs and Wildlife Too, Progressive Farmer, 2005.
H. Lee Stribling, Planting Egyptian Wheat for Bobwhite Quail, Auburn University, 1991.
USDA, ERS. Feed Grains Custom Query Database, 2017.