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What Is Broomcorn – How To Grow Broomcorn Plants

What Is Broomcorn – How To Grow Broomcorn Plants


By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

Do you wonder where those broom straws originate, the onethat are bound tightly into the broom you may still use for sweeping porchesand hardwood floors inside? These fibers come from a plant called broomcorn (Sorghumvulgare var. technicum), a variety of sorghum.

What is Broomcorn?

In addition to more traditional brooms, the broomcorn plant wasalso used for whiskbrooms, a short, hand broom that may still be usedoccasionally for small chores.

Many brooms are replaced these days with some type of small,electronic sweeping device or with a sweeper product which grabs dust, dirt andhair. But, just in the previous century, brooms were regularly used as a cleaningdevice. Many people grew their own broom straw and made their own brooms.

The crop was measured by how many hundreds of brooms itproduced. It was a type of sorghum used exclusively for making brooms andwhiskbrooms until these became less necessary. Now, broomcorn uses are largelyfor decorative products. This sorghum differs from others in that the stalkshave little value as livestock feed. Seeds have an equal value with oats.

Broomcorn Uses

Broom straw, while no longer as much of a householdnecessity, has found new, interesting uses. Baskets and autumn arrangementsbenefit from the long fibers. Witches’ brooms, often used in Halloween andautumn displays, are made from raw broom straw. It takes approximately 60 heads(sprays) to make a broom.

Floral arrangements and wreaths need even less of thesprays. When purchasing broomcorn, you’ll find it in natural hues and dyed withfall colors.

Broomcorn growing is simple and can provide materials forthe items mentioned above. If you have the inclination for DIY decorativebroomcorn items, and the room to plant a crop, get started in late spring.

How to Grow Broomcorn

Growing broomcorn is similar to growing a crop of field corn.Broomcorn is flexible to grow in different soils and tolerates heat anddrought. The best quality of this crop grows on silty, loamy soils that arewell draining, moist and fertile.

Preparing beds for an entire crop includes “plowing, diskingand double harrowing” of the soil. Locate plants six inches (15 cm.) apart inrows that are at least a foot (30 cm.) apart.

If you don’t have a field, but wish to grow a few plants,try them in a sunny spot in your garden or around your yard.

Plant seeds of broomcorn in spring. Broomcorn plant careinvolves pest control and harvesting at the right time. This is after theseedpods are developed. Dry harvested plants before using in crafts.

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Harvesting Broom Corn - Knowledgebase Question

I have grown a few experimental stalks of broom corn and now I would like to know when and how to harvest it? It is about 10 feet tall and has some red tassel like tops. The wind from hurricane Dennis has begun to blow it over and so I am wondering if I need to cut it now before it is no longer standing.

At the factory broomcorn is sorted according to length, color (green is preferred), fineness, and straightness of the fiber. A broom is built up on a winding machine that slowly turns its wooden handle as the brush is added, layer by layer, and bound tight by a wire under tension. After two or three layers of shorter, coarser fibers, the shoulders of the broom are formed by adding brush to opposite sides. Next comes a layer of longer brush, called hurl, pointing the other way. This is folded down over the growing broom, followed by a final covering of hurl.

So, the short answer to your question is: harvest before the fibers become dry and brittle.

weighing 350 to 450 pounds. All this must be done carefully to yield good, untangled fiber for use in brooms.

At the factory broomcorn is sorted according to length, color (green is preferred), fineness, and straightness of the fiber. A broom is built up on a winding machine that slowly turns its wooden handle as the brush is added, layer by layer, and bound tight by a wire under tension. After two or three layers of shorter, coarser fibers, the shoulders of the broom are formed by adding brush to opposite sides. Next comes a layer of longer brush, called hurl, pointing the other way. This is folded down over the growing broom, followed by a final covering of hurl.

So, the short answer to your question is: harvest before the fibers become dry and brittle.


Wanted: Leaf Peepers for Science

Have you ever noticed the first crocuses poking out of the snow or the brilliant, changing colors of fall leaves? If so, we need your help with the critical work of studying how plants are affected by a changing climate.

Budburst, a project adopted by the Chicago Botanic Garden in 2017, brings together citizens, research scientists, educators, and horticulturists to study “phenology,” or the life-cycle events of plants. Wildflower phenology events, for example, are fairly simple: first flower, full flower, first fruit, and full fruiting. Deciduous trees, on the other hand, are more complex, with stages from first buds to leaf drop.

Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) seed in the summer.

Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) leaves in the fall.

Budburst builds on the basic human drive to notice this kind of changing nature around us and record the information to a database for scientists to review. As director of Budburst, I’m excited to hear about your observations on Fall into Phenology, a study on the autumnal changes you see in plants, or the Nativars Research Project, which looks at how bees, butterflies, and other pollinators react to cultivated varieties of native plants.

Budburst’s Fall into Phenology is not limited to just leaf color and seed it is about observing plants in the fall. This will be my second autumn with Budburst and the Garden, and I’m looking forward to watching some my favorite plants go through their life-cycle changes. I’ll be keeping an eye on the sweetgum trees (Liquidambar styraciflua) underneath my window at the Regenstein Learning Campus, for instance. I can’t wait to see the beautiful shades of yellow or orange or…well, you just never know.

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Watch the video: BROOM MAKING: PLAIT YOUR BROOM HANDLE - HAWK TAIL 2 #DIYbroom #broommaking #brooms #turkeywing