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Millet is a food cereal crop.

Millet (Panicum miliaceum)
Millet (Panicum miliaceum)
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©Dalgial (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Economic importance

Millet is used to produce millet groat, which is one of the most tasty and nutritious groats in the world. It is characterized by high protein and fat content.

Table. Chemical composition of various types of groats[1]Plant breeding/P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko, V.S. Kuznetsov et al; Edited by P.P. Vavilov. - M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. - 512 p.: ill. - (Textbook and Tutorials for Higher Education Institutions). … Continue reading

Contents, %
Barley (from crushed barley)
Perlovaya (whole-grain barley)

Millet groats are made by separating the grain from the flakes.

Millet flour is not made from millet, as bread is of low quality and stale quickly.

Grain and waste (flour, husk), obtained in the manufacture of groats, serve as feed for animals and poultry. 1 kg of millet grain corresponds to 0.97 fodder unit, straw – 0.51 fodder unit, chaff – 0.42 fodder unit. Grain is usually used as feed for pigs and poultry, straw and chaff for cattle. Their quality is similar to that of the average hay. Millet straw contains 6.9 percent protein, 1.8 percent fat, 27.8 percent dietary fiber and 40.7 percent of nonnitrogenous extractive substances. In some areas, pearl millet is cultivated for green fodder and hay. Millet hay is as nutritious as moghar, but gentler than moghar. 1 hay unit corresponds to 5.1 kg of green mass of millet. 1 hay unit corresponds to 5.5 kg of oat-and-vinegrain mixture.

The grain can be used for the production of malt.

Thanks to the small seeding rate, later sowing dates and short vegetation period, millet serves as an insurance crop and a fallow crop. Under conditions of a long fallow period, such as in the North Caucasus, Middle and Lower Volga region, and Ukraine, two harvests per year can be obtained. Summer sowings of millet serve as a cover crop for perennial grasses.

Millet is one of the most drought- and heat-tolerant crops, which is important for arid areas and in dry years. Millet is also less affected by pests and diseases than other crops.

History of crop

Millet is the most ancient agricultural crop, it began to be cultivated in 4-5 thousand years BC (2700 years BC, V.V. Kolomeychenko). According to N.I. Vavilov, common millet comes from East and Central Asia. It probably penetrated into Europe with nomadic peoples from Asia. Millet came to America from Europe.

In Russia, pearl millet has been known since ancient times. Millet is mentioned in the annals of the 11th century and in Russian byliny and songs. In excavations near Minsk, grains dating back to the VI-VII centuries A.D. have been discovered.

Cultivation areas and yields

In the 1980s, it was one of the last cereal crops in the world in terms of cultivated area (43 million ha) and yield (0.66 t/ha). It is most widespread in Asia (23.4 million ha) and Africa (16.4 million ha). Producing countries include Russia, China, Mongolia, India, Afghanistan, Turkey, Japan, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria; there are small areas in Africa and eastern USA.

In the USSR, the area under crops was in 1971-1975. – In the USSR the area under crops in 1971-1975 was 2 742 thousand hectares, in 1976-1980 it was 3 mln ha. – In 1976-1980 the area under crops in the USSR was 2,742 ths. ha.

By the end of XX century, millet was cultivated on 83 million hectares or 12% of global grain-crops acreage. The gross harvest of millet was 95 million tons or 5% of the total grain harvest. The average yield was 1.2 t/ha.

In Russia in 2001-2005 the area sown was 1 mln ha or 2% of the total area of cereals, the grain harvest was 0.8 mln t with the average yield of 1.0 t/ha (in 1997 – 1.12 t/ha).

High heat demand and drought tolerance determine the main regions of millet cultivation. In Russia these are: the southeast of the Volga region, the Central Black Earth zone, the Northern Caucasus, Western Siberia, in the Non-Black Earth zone – up to 57° N. (early maturing varieties), small areas in Eastern Siberia. From the republics of the former Soviet Union – Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

If cultivated well or under irrigated conditions, pearl millet is capable of giving high yields as one panicle can form up to 1,000 grains weighing 6-7 g, achieving yields of 1.5-3.5 t/ha. For example, in Shebekinsky district of Belgorod region (“Novaya Zhizn”) and Millerovsky district of Rostov region (“Rassvet”) – more than 5 tons/ha, in Talovsky district of Voronezh region (collective farm named after Kalinin) – more than 5 tons/ha. Kalinin) yield reached 3.53 t/ha, in Aktobe region (Kazakhstan) (“Pobeda” state farm) – 3.00 t/ha, in Lebedinsky district of Sumy region (Ukraine) (Shevchenko collective farm) – 2.41 t/ha, in Krasnokutsky district of Saratov region (Komintern collective farm) – 2.14 t/ha.

Botanical description

Common millet (Panicum miliaceum) is an annual plant belonging to the genus Panicum. The crop also includes the genus bristlecone (Sctaria B.). The inflorescence of Panicum is panicle, Sctaria is spike-like panicle. The genus bristlewort in culture is represented by the Italian millet (S. italica), which includes subspecies: S. italica, Italian millet proper, or chumiza, and S. italica mogarium, mogar. Italian pearl millet differs from mogar by its longer panicle, up to 15-30 cm, and the presence of lobes. It is grown on small plots for grain in Central Asia, Primorye and Transcaucasia.

Mogar is cultivated chiefly for fodder purposes: grain for bird feed, hay and green fodder.

Common millet is the most commonly cultivated crop. The weight of 1000 grains is 5-10 g.

Root system

The root system of millet is fibrous, sprouting with a single root. Secondary roots are formed from tillering nodes. The power of the root system is determined not so much by the depth of occurrence, which can reach up to 105-150 cm, as by the spreading in width (up to 120 cm) and the number of root shoots, reaching up to 120 pcs. The main mass of the roots is located in the 20-cm layer, 80% of the roots are concentrated to a depth of 40 cm.

Depending on the phase of vegetation, the proportion of the roots of the total mass of plants is:

from seedlings to tillering – 20%;
from tillering to emergence into a tube – 35%;
From emergence into the tube to the formation of the panicle – 30%.

After the phase of panicle formation, root growth slows down and stops by flowering.

Aerial support roots may develop from the lower above-ground nodes of the stem, which increase resistance to lodging and drought. Plants form a root system up to the stage of panicle formation, which allows a fuller use of moisture, unlike other cereals. In dry weather, the formation of nodular roots slows down, and the semi-lodged seedlings live for a long period at the expense of germ roots. If the soil is sufficiently moist, the nodular roots develop quickly, reaching a depth of 40-50 cm in 15-20 days.

The absorption capacity of the roots is lower than that of oats and barley, so millet grows worse on old-tilled soils and responds well to fertilizer application.


The stem is a hollow straw, 70-100 cm high, forming shoots from a tillering node (tillering) and above-ground stem nodes (branching). One plant forms 5 to 20 shoots depending on the feeding area. This property is used for wide-row and stubble sowing.


Leaves are up to 65 cm long, lanceolate, broadly pubescent. The glans are short, with cilia, and the auricles are absent.


The inflorescence of millet is a panicle 10-40 cm long, strongly branched, with 10-40 branches. One spikelet is located at the ends of the branches.

Spikelets are two-flowered, one upper flower develops, under favorable conditions, a second flower may develop, then two grains are formed in the spikelet.

Its flowers are monopolar, each with three stamens and an ovary with two pinnate stigmae. The flowers are facultative self-pollinators. Cross-pollination accounts for 20% of the total. 

Grains are small, of globular or oval shape, filmy, without a furrow or a tuft. Weight of 1,000 grains varies from 4 to 10 g (more often 6-8 g); the fraction of films (filminess) is 12-22%. The proportion of films decreases with increasing grain weight. The color of the films (scales) may be red, cream, bronze, gray and yellow.

The yield of groats depends on grain size, shape and filminess and averages 67-84%.


Depending on the shape of the panicle, common millet is subdivided (according to I.V. Popov):

  • spreading (patentissimun Popov) differs in the straight and long axis of the panicle, the branches are strongly deflected from the axis, the pads are present at the base of all branches;
  • branched (effusum Al.) – the axis of the panicle is straight and long, the lateral branches are less deviated from the axis, the pads are present only at the lower branches;
  • compressed or drooping (contractum Al.) – axis long, curved, lateral branches pressed against the main stem, cushions absent or weakly expressed;
  • oval, or semi-lumped (ovatum Popov) – panicle is shortened, dense, lower branches are deflected, upper ones are pressed to the axis, cushions are only at lower branches;
  • clumpy (compactum Korn): panicle short, straight, dense, with short lateral branches pressed to the main axis, no cushions.

The relationship between the structure of the panicle and the biological and economic properties of pearl millet has been established. For example, millet with a spreading panicle is less thermophilic, drought-resistant and demanding to the soil, but it is the most early maturing, so it moves further north than other subspecies. Grain in this case turns out fine, with a smaller yield of groats. The subspecies of compressed millet is more heat-loving and drought-resistant, with strong development, large grains and a good yield of grits. The clump millet is the most heat-loving and drought-resistant, but is inferior to the compressed millet in terms of grain size and groat yield.

The subspecies is also subdivided into varieties according to the degree of peeling of the grain, the color of the flakes and the presence or absence of anthocyanins on the spikelet flakes. Varieties with anthocyanin coloring are characterized by greater precocity within a subspecies. Varieties adapted to local conditions are characterized by hard-peeled grains.

Table. Varieties of millet[2]Crop production/P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko, V.S. Kuznetsov et al; Edited by P.P. Vavilov. - M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. - 512 p.: ill. - (Textbook and Tutorials for Higher Education Institutions). … Continue reading

Grain yellow or creamy
Red grain
Spikelet scale coloring without anthocyanin
Coloring of spikelet scales with anthocyanin
Spikelet scale coloring without anthocyanin
Coloring of spikelet scales with anthocyanin
Vitellinum Popov
Subvitellinum Popov
Flavum Korn
Subflavum Korn
Coccineum Korn
Subcoccineum Korn
Aureum Al.
Subaureum Al.
Sangineum Al.
Subsangineum Al.
Densum Korn
Subdensum Korn
Dacicum Korn
Subdacicum Korn

Biological features

Temperature requirements

Millet is a thermophilic plant. Seeds begin to germinate at 8-10°C; viable and uniform seedlings emerge at 12-15°C in 5 to 7 days. Biologically optimal temperature for the most vigorous germination of seeds is 20-30°C, the maximum temperature at which it stops is 40°C.

Terms of germination depending on temperature:

  • at 8 °C – 10-15 days;
  • at 15 °C – 4-5 days;
  • at 20-25 °C – 3 days.

Sprouts are damaged by frosts of -2 … -3 °C; at -3 °C, they die. In subsequent phases of vegetation, the need for heat is also high. Favorable temperatures for growth are:

  • sprouting – tillering – 18 °C;
  • tillering – panicle formation – 20 °C;
  • panicle formation – flowering – 23 °C (minimum temperature +15 °C);
  • flowering – ripening – 21°C.

Millet, lacking in heat during vegetation and rainy years, lowers its yield and reduces grain protein content by 1.5 times.

The sum of active temperatures during the whole growing season is 1800-2300°C. With late sowing dates, there is a risk that plants will be exposed to autumn frosts. Frost-killed grains do not keep well.

Unlike other grains, millet tolerates high temperatures better. This is explained by the fact that stomatal cells retain their regulating ability at 38-40 °C for 48 hours.

Moisture requirements

Millet is less demanding of moisture than other cereals. During germination, seeds absorb only 25% of water of their own mass. Transpiration coefficient is 125-300 (generalized). The root system has good sucking power and is capable of extracting soil moisture even when it is about one and a half hygroscopic. N.I. Vavilov referred this crop to the most drought-resistant.

Its resistance to drought can be explained by its ability to temporarily suspend growth (falling into a kind of anabiosis), to roll up its leaves, and to spread its above-ground part over the ground to reduce moisture evaporation. Plants can tolerate wilting and dehydration of tissues for a long time.

Millet is better able to withstand drought from emergence to emergence into the tube. The period from the end of tillering to grain formation is critical for millet in terms of water requirements. Yields depend on the availability of moisture and nutrients to the plants during this period. Maximum moisture consumption is during the period from heading to the end of panicle formation. Sufficient moisture supply should be during the period of nodule root formation.

It was found that during the period of 20 days from the beginning of panicle formation, the amount of precipitation less than 30 mm (30 l/m2), leads to lower yields.

Millet differs from other crops in that it makes very good use of rainfall in the second half of the summer.

It is responsive to irrigation. Yield of pearl millet under irrigation at Valuisky experimental-reclamation station of Volga Research Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Land Reclamation was 4-4,5 t/ha, without irrigation – 0,6-0,8 t/ha.

Light requirements

Millet is a light-loving plant because a large amount of organic matter is accumulated during the short vegetation period. According to A.A. Nalivkin and P.P. Vavilov, pearl millet responds to improved light conditions by increasing its yield by 6-10% when the rows are placed from the north to the south.

The greatest intensity of photosynthesis occurs during the period from the beginning of grain ripening to full ripeness. For this reason, overcast weather in the second half of the growing season leads to a prolongation of the growing season. Shading of plants in dense or weedy crops also negatively affects yields.

A typical short-day plant. As you move north, millet stretches out its growing season; accordingly, with later planting dates and stubble crops, growing time is reduced by 15 to 20 days.

Soil requirements

Millet is good on fertile structural soils with a large supply of available nutrients. Black and chestnut soils are best suited. Other types of soil are also acceptable, especially when fertilized. Heavy clay, solonetz soils are undesirable.

Does not tolerate high acidity, the optimal pH is 6.5-7.5.

It has higher requirements for nitrogen nutrition.


The growing season is 55-120 days, averaging 80 days.

Productive bushiness is usually 2-3 stems. With the wide-row method of sowing – up to 7-10 stems.

In the first 2-3 weeks after emergence, growth is slow, so you should consider it in weed control.

Under unfavorable conditions, the tillering phase and the growth of knot roots are delayed, which may lead to lodging, blowing out and root breakage. Adequate moisture and nutrients in the soil, the timing and depth of sowing, and the absence of weeds contribute to the tillering and growth of knotty roots.

Millet vegetation phases:

  1. seed germination;
  2. sprouting (7-10 days after sowing, depending on the temperature);
  3. the third leaf – the growth stops, the secondary roots begin to develop slowly (from tillering to weeding, the development accelerates sharply);
  4. tillering occurs later than in other cereals; in 15-20 days after sprouts; under unfavorable conditions, it is elongated and results in shoots without inflorescences (podsed);
  5. emergence into a tube 10-12 days after the beginning of tillering; it is accompanied by intensive growth of the above-ground mass and roots, differentiation and growth of generative organs;
  6. panicle formation 20-25 days after tillering (30-35 days after emergence of seedlings in early varieties and 45-50 days in late ones); the phase is extended, resulting in differences in panicle productivity and indistinct maturation; duration 18-20 days;
  7. flowering 2-6 days after the beginning of panicle formation, the growth of the stem and root system is suspended, flowering occurs in the morning, especially intense from 10 to 11 h. Flowering begins with the upper flowers, gradually spreading downwards and deep into the panicle. The panicle flowering lasts 10-12 days, with a phase that lasts 7-16 days;
  8. ripening is not simultaneous and lasts 15 to 20 days. Grains begin to ripen in the upper part of the panicle, then in the middle and, at the end, towards the lower part.

Crop rotation

Millet is intolerant of permanent crops. At the former Kharkiv Agricultural Experimental Station for 16 years with a permanent cropping average yield was 0.97 t/ha, in rotation – 1.69 t/ha. Millet has high requirements for predecessors, which is associated with slow growth in the beginning of development because of which plants can be strongly suppressed by weeds and affected by diseases, such as fusariosis, helminthosporiosis.

The highest yield simply shows when sowing on virgin land, fallow land, after perennial grasses or one year after them, provided sufficient soil moisture. W.R. Williams referred millet to layer crops. With good agronomy in fields clean of weeds, it can give high yields after leguminous crops (annual), well fertilized potatoes, melons.

Millet is not usually placed before and after corn because both crops are affected by a common pest, the corn moth. If it is absent, corn may serve as a good preceding crop.

In the Volga region and some other regions of Russia, as well as in Ukraine, pearl millet is placed after winter cereals following bare fallow.

Sunflower and sugar beet are considered as satisfactory predecessors.

Under arid steppe conditions, pearl millet can serve as a precursor of spring cereal crops when sown in wide rows.

Table. Effect of precursors on the yield of millet, average for 3 years, 100 kg/ha[3]Crop production/P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko, V.S. Kuznetsov et al; Edited by P.P. Vavilov. - M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. - 512 p.: ill. - (Textbook and Tutorials for Higher Education Institutions). … Continue reading

Sugar beet
Perennial grasses
Kharkov experimental station
Poltava experimental station
Krasnograd experimental station
All-Russian Research Institute of Leguminous Crops

Fertilizer system

1 ton of millet grain and the corresponding amount of straw (2 tons) contains on average 25-30 kg of nitrogen, 14-20 kg of phosphorus, 15-35 kg of potassium and 10 kg of calcium. In terms of nitrogen intake, millet approaches that of spring wheat, surpassing the other cereals of the group I. The yield of this crop is especially rich in potassium, calcium and phosphorus, surpassing all cereals except corn.

Millet absorbs nutrients irregularly, almost all of them before ripening. During the germination to tillering period it needs about 7% of necessary nutrients, then the intensity of nutrient consumption increases sharply. For example, in the phases tillering – flowering, removal of nutrients from the soil is more than 65% (70% of nitrogen and 60% of phosphorus, almost 100% of potassium), during flowering – ripening period – 28-30% of their total amount. The maximum consumption of nitrogen, potassium and calcium is during flowering, phosphorus – during grain ripening.

To determine the norms of fertilizer application use the balance method. 2/3 of phosphorus and potassium are applied under the main autumn cultivation, the remaining amount is applied in the rows and in top dressing, nitrogen is applied in spring under pre-sowing cultivation and in top dressing.

Basic fertilizer

Millet is responsive to organic and mineral fertilizers, especially their combined application. In this case, the nature of the consumption of nutrients by millet plants corresponds to the rate of their mobilization from fertilizers and soil.

According to the experiments of the former Kharkiv Agricultural Experimental Station for 12 years, an increase in grain yield from making 18 t / ha of manure amounted to 0.84 t / ha, from the effects of organic fertilizers – 0,25-0,5 t / ha. Good use of after action of fertilizers allows you to place millet after well fertilized winter and row crops, and directly under it apply only mineral fertilizers.

Table. Effect of mineral fertilizers on the yield of millet (geographical network of experiments All-Russian Institute of Fertilizers and Agrosoil Science)

Fertilizer rate
Yields on the control, 100 kg/ha
Yield increase from fertilizers, 100 kg/ha
Central areas of the Non-Black Soil Zone, podzolic and gray forest soils
Ivanovo Agricultural Institute
Gorky Agricultural Experimental Station
Steppe regions of the Central Black Earth zone and the Middle Volga region, black soils
Mitrofanovskoe experimental field (Voronezh region)
former Bezenchuk experimental station (Samara region)
Eastern Siberia, leached black soils
the former Kamalinsky Breeding Station (Krasnoyarsk Territory)

The effectiveness of different types of fertilizers depends on the type of soil. For example, in the southern regions on ordinary chernozems the greatest increase in yield gives phosphorus fertilizers, forest-steppe regions on gray forest soils and leached chernozems – nitrogen fertilizers, then phosphorus. The effect of potassium fertilizers is manifested significantly only on potassium-poor soils.

On leached black soils, gray forest soils and podzolic soils use phosphate flour.

Complex fertilizers are effective. According to the Ukrainian Agricultural Academy, the application of nitrophoska on chernozem soils, depending on the composition and type of nutrients (chloride-free and nitrogen-sulfate) gave a yield increase from 0.24 to 0.95 t/ha (8.6-28.4%).

Pre-sowing (row) fertilizer

The phosphorus reserve in millet seeds is very small, and the development of the root system in the beginning of growth is very slow and is not able to effectively use the reserves of this element in the soil. This determines the high yield of row application of granulated superphosphate at a rate of 50 kg/ha (P10-15) together with seeds, providing a yield increase of 0.25-0.35 t/ha. For example, in Olkhovatsky district of Voronezh region (collective farm “Zarya”) row application of nitrophoska at a rate of 50 kg/ha during sowing increased the yield of millet grain by 0.5 t/ha.

Top dressing

Stretchy consumption of nutrients during the growing season and their effective consumption by pearl millet plants in the second half of the growing season result in high efficiency of top dressing application.

Fertilizing is carried out when the topsoil is sufficiently moistened in the phase of tillering or at the beginning of emerging the tube at the rate of N20-30P20-30. Potassium may also be added.

At wide-row sowing top dressing combined with the first inter-row cultivation carriers plant-feeders, fertilizers are paved at a depth of 6-8 cm, at a distance of 8-10 cm from the row, the rate of N15-20. To increase the protein content of grain, the second fertilization is possible during the ripening period.

Tillage system

Given that millet is highly susceptible to weed suppression in the initial stages of growth, discing stubble or perennial grasses and early autumn plowing are of great importance in the agronomic practices of this crop. According to the Voronezh Agricultural Institute, plowing in August increased millet yield by 11% compared with plowing in September and by 33.7% compared with treatment in October.

When rosettes of root-shoot weeds appear, discing is carried out twice, e.g. by disc-tillers ЛДГ-15А, ЛДГ-10А, ЛДГ-5А or by disk- harrows БДТ-10, БДТ-7,0, БДТ-3,0, БД-10А. When clogging the fields with various perennial weeds, hoeing machines with spherical discs are used.

For minor weed infestation of fields, for example, after row crops, discing may not be carried out, being limited to autumn tillage.

In the Altai, Volga region, North Caucasus, as well as the north of Kazakhstan and other areas at risk of erosion processes, a soil-protective system of tillage is used. It consists of flat-cutting autumn tillage by cultivators КПГ-250 to a depth of 25-27 cm. According to the Kazakh Scientific Research Institute of Agriculture yield of millet in this case increased from 0.77 to 1.01 t/ha compared with the usual plowing to the same depth.

In case of long warm autumn, additional harrowing is carried out during plowing, and further tillage is carried out according to the type of half-fallow, which allows the field to be well cleaned from weeds. In the case of short autumn with early onset of frost, discing and half-fallow tillage is not carried out, and immediately after the harvesting of the forecrop deep plowing is carried out.

Despite its drought tolerance, pearl millet responds to increased soil moisture. Therefore, snow and meltwater retention techniques in arid regions contribute significantly to higher yields.

Pre-sowing tillage is also important. It includes early spring harrowing in two trails or harrowing with ploughing, two cultivations. The first cultivation is carried out to a depth of 8-10 cm when weeds appear, the second – to 4-5 cm (or sowing depth) before sowing.

When stubble is preserved since autumn, needle harrows are used for harrowing, for cultivation – flat-cutters and anti-erosion tools. Depending on weather conditions, two harrowing in 2 tracks with an interval of 3-4 hours is possible.

For uniform penetration of shallow seeds to a shallow depth, the field is rolled before sowing. In the case of dry spring, rolling is carried out after the first cultivation, which contributes to moisture retention and better germination of weeds that are destroyed by the second cultivation. For example, in Bazarno-Karabulaksky district of Saratov region (kolkhoz “Rossiya”) the yield of millet in 2 years without packing after two cultivations was on the average 1.7 t/ha, with rolling – 1.86 t/ha.

Effective use of combined aggregates for seedbed preparation, for example, РВК-3,6, РВК-5,4, ВИП-5,6.


Preparation of seeds

Large seeds with high germination and germination energy are used for sowing. According to the Department of Plant Industry of the Moscow Agricultural Academy, the best seeding qualities are large seeds with a diameter of 1.7 to 2 mm, heavy seeds. Extraction of seeds from the upper part of the panicle with the help of two-drum combine “Sibiryak” and their sorting by density (according to N.A. Maysuryan) contributed to an increase in the yield of up to 20%.

To prepare the seeds for sowing, use heat treatment, consisting in moistening them with hot water (25 liters per 100 kg of seeds) and incubation at 22-28 °C for 2 days in a pile, followed by drying until crumbly.

Also perform air-heat treatment (20-30 days before sowing) and seed dressing with dry chemicals: granozan (with dye), mercurbenzene (1 kg/t seed), Vitavax, benlat.

The most effective is preliminary 2-3 months before sowing dry dressing. To prevent buntings, treat seeds 2-3 days before sowing with 40% aqueous formalin solution at a rate of 0.33 liters per ton of seeds. After soaking, the seeds are covered with a tarpaulin for 2 hours.

The following preparations are used for seed dressing:

Ferazim (500 g/l carbendazim) – against Fusarium root rot, smut;
Fenoram Super (470 g/kg carboxin + 230 g/kg thiram) – against smut.

Timing of seeding

The timing of sowing is determined so that a sufficient reserve of moisture is preserved at the seed sowing depth, and the emergence of seedlings does not coincide with frosts. The optimal sowing date for millet is more extended than for other cereals. However, if sown too early or too late, the field germination of seeds decreases.

According to the Michurin Fruit and Vegetable Institute, the field germination of seeds when sown at less than 10°C was 22%, at 12-15°C – 76%; at over 30°C – 32%. According to the former Chakinskaya experimental station (Tambov Province), damage by the millet bug at early sowing dates (May 7-17) was 35%; at late sowing dates (May 27-June 10) it reached 92%.

The optimum sowing date for pearl millet is when the soil at the seed sowing depth (or 10 cm) warms up to 10-15 °C. According to the data of the Department of Crop Production of the Moscow Agricultural Academy, for the Non-Black Soil zone it is May 20 – June 1, for the forest-steppe zone – May 10-20, for the steppe zone – May 1-10.

Experiments of Voronezh Agricultural Institute showed good results with late sowing in late May-early June, especially with high contamination of fields. In this case there is an opportunity to clear fields from weeds better by additional cultivation. For 5 years, the average yield in these experiments was: when sowing on April 30, 2.33 t/ha; May 15, 2.77 t/ha; June 5, 2.94 t/ha. Late sowing dates resulted in lower yields. Also in Saratov region, sowing of millet in June allowed to get by 0.05 t/ha more grain than when sown in May.

The advantages of late sowing are due to additional measures against weeds, emergence and development of seedlings in warm weather. However, this is only true if moisture reserves are sufficiently conserved.

In the south, also apply stubble sowing of millet for grain after harvesting early harvested crops or after mowing the crops.

Methods of seeding

Millet by its biological properties refers to row crops, as it is characterized by high bushiness, slow initial growth, weed infestation, increased need for solar insolation, the predominant spread of the roots in width. This is the reason for the wide-row method of sowing, which creates good conditions for growth and development of millet plants. At the same time, the method of sowing should take into account soil fertility, the previous crop, moisture supply and weed infestation of the field.

Studies of experimental stations in different zones of Russia for many years showed the lack of advantages of wide-row sowing over row and narrow-row in arid areas, and when using effective means of weed control are even inferior to them.

On clean fertile soils and with sufficient moisture the row or narrow-row method of sowing is more effective.

On clogged soils and with a lack of moisture can be used strip wide-row sowing: double row 45x15x15 cm, 60x15x15 cm or single row with a row spacing of 45 cm or 30 cm. Wide-row method is preferred when sowing for seed.

Table. Yield of millet at different methods of sowing, 100 kg/ha[4]Plant breeding/P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko, V.S. Kuznetsov et al; Edited by P.P. Vavilov. - M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. - 512 p.: ill. - (Textbook and Tutorials for Higher Education Institutions). … Continue reading

Non-Black Soil
Central Black Earth

Note. Experiments were conducted in different years, so the comparison of wide-row, strip and narrow-row methods each time goes with the row method.

Seeding rates

Seeding rates for millet vary from 8 to 30 kg/ha. They increase when sowing from the south to the north of the country and from east to west, which is associated with the amount of precipitation and field germination of regions.

In the south, the optimal density of plants is achieved due to higher field germination and increased bushiness. According to the data of variety testing sites, the field germination of seeds in the northern regions varies from 20 to 47%, in the forest-steppe zone – 37-56%, in the steppe – up to 73%.

Recommended seeding rates for millet:

  • Steppe zone:
    • wide-row sowing method – 1.5-2 million/ha of germinated seeds or 8-12 kg/ha;
    • row sowing method – 2-3 mln/ha of germinated seeds or 12-18 kg/ha;
  • Forest-steppe zone:
    • wide-row sowing method – 2-3 mln/ha of germinated seeds or 12-16 kg/ha;
    • row sowing method – 3-4 mln. ha of germinated seeds or 18-24 kg/ha;
  • Non-Black Soil Zone:
    • wide-row sowing method – 2.5-4 million/ha of germinated seeds or 14-18 kg/ha;
    • row sowing method – 4-5 million germinated seeds or 24-30 kg/ha.

Recommended seeding rates are adjusted depending on local conditions. When sowing in dry soil, in weedy fields, at risk of millet bug spreading, at late sowing dates, at harrowing upon sprouting, seeding rates are increased by 10-15%.

Seed sowing depth

The sowing depth of millet seeds is 3 to 8 cm. It is reduced on heavy wet soils and early sowing dates. On the contrary, it is increased on dry, light soils and late sowing dates.

In northern areas, the optimal sowing depth is 3-4 cm, in the south – 4-5 cm. Under a moisture deficit and on light soils, the sowing depth is up to 10 cm. Millet easily tolerates deep sowing (according to other data – poorly, V.S. Niklyaev). For example, at the Samoilovsky state harvesting area in the Saratov region, the highest yield of pearl millet was obtained when sown at a depth of 4-6 cm in wet springs, while in dry springs it was obtained when sown at a depth of 8-10 cm (on average 2.68 t/ha).

Crop care

To increase field germination of seeds, to obtain uniform sprouts, to improve the water and thermal regime of the soil, the fields after sowing are rolled with ring or rubbing rollers. Especially rolling is important when the top layer of soil dries up, as it facilitates the inflow of water from the lower layers, levels the soil surface and improves the uniformity of seed embedding. According to the data of experimental stations, rolling increases the yield by 5-7%, in some years up to 12%. In N.F. Yakimenko’s research, this method increased soil moisture after sowing by 4% and gave an average yield increase in 4 years was 0.22 t/ha, while pre-sowing rolling up was 0.13 t/ha.

A combination of rolling and light harrowing is possible to prevent formation of soil crust.

On row and narrow-row crops, it is recommended to carry out harrowing with tooth harrows before and after emergence of seedlings in the hot period of the day when plant turgor is the weakest.

After rains or irrigation, it is desirable to carry out a light dip after emergence of the tube for development of nodule roots. At Saratov and Bezenchuk experimental stations, hilling gave a yield increase of 0.21-0.23 t/ha.

During millet flowering in the morning hours, it is effective to carry out artificial additional pollination, first of all, on seed plots.

On broad-seeded crops, inter-row loosening by tine tillers and top dressing are carried out after sprouting. Fertilizing is done at the second and third inter-row tillage. The first treatment of inter-row cultivation is made at a depth of 4-5 cm after marking rows. The second treatment is carried out in the phase of tillering at a depth of 6-8 cm. The third – 10-15 days after the second.


Weed control in pearl millet crops is crucial. For this purpose, treatment with herbicides 2,4-D butyl ether, 43% emulsion concentrate at a dose of 0.7-1 kg/ha is carried out in the tillering phase. Crops are also treated with 2M-4X (Dicotex) at the rate of 1.3-1.5 kg/ha of 80% soluble powder.

Chemical weeding of pearl millet crops can be combined with foliar feeding of plants with nitrogen fertilizers at the rate of 10-15 kg/ha. Feeding increases the efficiency of herbicide action and mitigates its negative effect on millet plants. For example, at the Kursk Agricultural Experimental Station the use of herbicides increased the yield by 0.18 t/ha, and in combination with mineral fertilizer – by 0.34 t/ha.

To improve adhesion of solution drops to plant leaves, wetting agents such as ОП-7 or ОП-10 in the amount of 0.25-0.5 kg/ha are added to the herbicide solution.

In modern farming conditions the greatest attention should be paid to agrotechnical methods of weed control: seed cleaning, observance of sowing dates, pre-sowing soil preparation, crop rotation, etc.

Pests and diseases of corn

Common diseases of millet include smut, melanosis, stripe bacteriosis, and streak bacteriosis. Contaminated seeds and weeds can be sources of the diseases.

Pests of pearl millet include the bread flea, cicadas and thrips. In the steppe zone, the millet moth, the millet beetle, and the stem (corn) moth are also common.


Millet ripens unevenly; by harvest time, the stalks remain juicy and green with a moisture content of 60-70%. The seeds of the upper part of the panicle are the first to ripen. According to N.F. Yakimenko (1975), they have a mass of 1000 grains of 7 g and moisture 16-17%, at the same time in the panicle were semi-mature and green grains weighing 1000 pieces of 4 g and moisture over 45%. Seeds of the lower part of the panicle mature in 10-12 days, with the upper ones already beginning to crumble. In wind and rain, shattering losses reach 0.5-0.6 t/ha. For this reason, the two-phase harvesting method is mainly used for harvesting millet, which reduces losses from shattering and improves the quality of grain and straw, and also increases the productivity of harvesters.

It is desirable to take regular samples to establish the optimal time of harvesting. In the analysis the number of mature grains, i.e. having characteristic features (color, hardness, luster) is checked. It is also possible to use the eosin method.

Two-phase harvesting is carried out 3-4 days in the phase of waxing ripeness of grain. In the panicle by this time should mature 75-80% of the grains. At the end of harvesting in 3-4 days the number of matured grains reaches 90-95%. Mowing is carried out by the mounted reapers, for example, ЖУ-6, ЖВН-10, with fixed on the reel slats overlays of a rubberized belt to soften the blows on the panicles. The height of cutting should be not less than 12-15 cm, so that the swath could evenly dry.

The threshing is done with a combine and picker 3-5 days after mowing, when the swaths are sufficiently dry. To reduce losses and damage to the grain combine additionally equipped and regulate, the rotation of the threshing drum is reduced to 500-600 per minute, otherwise the grain is crushed and up to 5% dropped. Straw and chaff after threshing is of high quality, so it is immediately collected in stacks.

Single-phase method is used only in case of delayed harvesting, when the ripening of grains in panicles reaches 100%, as well as on heavily thinned and low crops.

In some cases, such as seed crops, double threshing is used. The method consists in threshing in a “soft” mode of the mowed mass, as a result of the most ripe and large seeds are separated. Unripe and small seeds remain in panicles on the stalks. As they leave the straw shake, they are placed in swaths for further drying. During the second pass of the combine, the swaths are picked up and the dried seeds are completely threshed.

Specifics of cultivation under irrigation

Millet is very responsive to irrigation. According to the Valuyskaya experimental-reclamation station (Volgograd Region), when irrigated millet yields 4.0-4.5 t/ha of grain, while without irrigation it is 0.6-0.8 t/ha.

Under irrigation, weed vegetation develops much stronger than on rainfed land. Therefore, under these conditions, special attention is paid to weed control. For this purpose, two- and three-fold) pre-sowing tillage and herbicides are used.

Under irrigation conditions, fertilizer efficiency and moisture-use factor also increase significantly. The main fertilizer for millet is 30-40 t/ha of decomposed manure or complete mineral fertilizer (N120P120K90), or contribute them together in half the rate. Manure, some phosphorus and potash fertilizers are applied under autumn plowing, the remaining fertilizers – under the pre-sowing treatment.

Millet should be better placed after row crops or after perennial grasses in crop rotations on irrigated lands. The sowing date may be shifted by 5-10 days if additional weed control treatment is necessary.

The method of sowing is determined by the method of irrigation and weed infestation of fields. On clean soils, a continuous row sowing method gives higher yields than the wide-row method.

Norm of millet seeds sowing during irrigation is increased by 0.5-1 million grains, the depth of embedding is reduced to 3-4 cm.

With continuous seeding millet care consists of rolling, harrowing, herbicide treatments and fertilizers. If the wide-row sowing is carried out also 2-3 inter-row treatments on the 3rd-4th day after irrigation.

Fertilizing is carried out before the first and second waterings. The first feeding includes N35-45K40-50, the second – N35-40.

In dry autumn, the moisture-charge watering is carried out in the rate of 800-1000 m3/ha of water, in the dry spring – the pre-sowing watering. The timing of vegetative irrigation is adjusted to the critical periods of plant water requirements, taking into account soil moisture. The first watering is done before the tillering phase, when 3-4 leaves are formed; the second – during the phase of emergence of a tube; the third – during the critical period of panicle formation. Sometimes the fourth watering is done at the beginning of grain filling. Soil moisture at a depth of 60 cm must be at least 70% of the lowest moisture capacity. Furrow irrigation norms are 500-600 m3/ha of water, under sprinkling – 300-400 m3/ha.

Water consumption coefficient is about 65-90 m3/100 kg of grain depending on conditions of cultivation and yield.

The total irrigation norm of water consumption is 1500-2000 m3/ha. The most effective method of irrigation is sprinkling. For this purpose, sprinkler installations, such as КДУ-55М, ДДН-45, “Volzhanka”, “Fregat” or others are used.

Modern corn cultivation technologies

In modern technologies of millet cultivation in order to increase the yield and efficiency of cultivation, the concentration of crops, specialization of farms and advanced training of specialists acquire great importance.

Experience in the application of progressive technologies of millet cultivation in the USSR on the example of the collective farm “Rassvet” of Millerovo district of Rostov region showed an annual increase in yield: in 1971-1975. – 1.92 t/ha on an area of 300 hectares, in 1976-1980. – 2.69 t/ha on an area of 500 ha, in 1982. – 3.61 t/ha on an area of 570 ha. Increase of sowing areas and specialized brigades allowed to obtain higher economic effect: labour inputs per 100 kg of grain amounted to 0,91 man-hours with the prime cost 5,31 rub./100 kg. Net income from 1 hectare of sowing was 169 rubles at profitability – 69%. In 1982 from the sale of grain the collective farm received 91 thousand rubles of net income.

Millet was placed after winter wheat, going after bare fallow. After stubble discing, autumn plowing at a depth of 25-27 cm was carried out in 2-3 weeks, followed by autumn harrowing and cultivation with levelling of the soil surface. Spring tillage included 1-2 harrowing and cultivation. Fertilization – 50-60 t/ha of manure was applied under winter crops, 100 kg of ammonium nitrate under harrowing in spring, and 50-60 kg/ha of compound fertilizer was applied in rows during sowing. For sowing we used seeds of class I, the rate of seeding 26-30 kg/ha. Myronivsky 51 variety. 1 month before sowing, the seeds were treated with Granozan – 1 kg/t, before sowing – formalin 0.33 l/t. The crops were rolled, and in the phase of 4-5 leaves 2,4-D amine salt was treated at the rate of 1.5-2 kg/ha with ПОУ or ОВТ-1. Harvesting was carried out by the two-phase method when 80-90% of grain ripeness in the panicle was reached. Threshing was carried out at reduced speed – up to 350-400 rpm.


Crop production / P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko, V.S. Kuznetsov and others; Ed. P.P. Vavilov. – 5th ed., revised. and additional – M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. – 512 p.: ill. – (Textbook and textbooks for higher educational institutions).

V.V. Kolomeichenko. Crop production / Textbook. — M.: Agrobusinesscenter, 2007. — 600 p. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6.

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Agriculture and crop production. Ed. V.S. Niklyaev. – M .: “Epic”, 2000. – 555 p.