Foxtail Millet Farming Guide:
Introduction of Foxtail Millet Farming:- Foxtail millet is one of the very old crops grown for staple food especially in Asian countries and Africa. However, some farmers cultivate this crop for bird food, forage (green fodder for livestock) and hay. Foxtail millet crop was originated in India, China and Japan. Currently this millet crop commercially being grown on commercial scale in China, India, Indonesia, Japan and the Korean peninsula. Live stock farmers grow this crop for green fodder or hay and bird food. When it comes to plant description, foxtail millet is an annual grass with slim, vertical, leafy stems can grow to height of 4 feet 6.5 feet and the seed head of this plant is very dense and hairy panicle of this plant is about 5 cm to 25 cm long. These seeds are very small and thin in size (around 2 mm in diameter). Usually foxtail millet seed colour depends on the variety grown.
Foxtail millet is very nutritious just like other millet grain. It contains good protein, crude fibre and excellent source of amino acids and vitamins.
Scientific Name/ Botanical Name of Foxtail Millet:- Setaria italica.
Family Name of Foxtail Millet:- Poaceae.
Genus of Foxtail Millet:- Setaria.
Other Names of Foxtail Millet:- Other names for the species include dwarf setaria, foxtail bristle-grass, giant setaria, green foxtail, Italian millet, German millet, and Hungarian millet.
Foxtail Millet in Indian Languages:- Foxtail Millet (English). Kangni (Hindi), Tenai (Tamil), Korralu (Telugu), Navane (Kannada), Kanghu, Kora (Oriya), Shol (Kashmiri), Thina (Malayalam), Rala (Marathi), kaon dana (Bengali), and kang (Gujarati).
Health Benefits of Foxtail Millet:- The following are some of the health benefits of Foxtail Millet (Korra).
- Foxtail millet is excellent food which can control blood sugar levels.
- Consuming regularly can keep your digestive tract clean.
- Frequent consumption of this millet can reduce heart problems.
- These grains are rich source of antioxidants
- Excellent food for weight loss
- These small grainy food can reduce gastric problems
Varieties / Types (Cultivars) of Foxtail Millet:- There are many varieties of foxtail millet grown, however, some of the international cultivars (varieties) include Sno-Fox, Butte, German, Golden German, Manta, White Wonder and Common.
Climate and Soil Requirement for Foxtail Millet Farming:- Foxtail millet is a warm season crop can be grown in arid and semi-arid regions of the country. This crop thrives well in drought conditions as well. People who have poor water source can go for this crop. Other advantage of this crop is , it can be grown even in poor and dry soils.
Land Preparation in Foxtail Millet Farming:- Land should be prepared thoroughly to bring it to fine tilth stage. This can be achieved by giving couple of deep ploughings with local tractor. Any previous crop remains should be cleaned and ensure the weed free and clean field before sowing the seeds.
Propagation in Foxtail Millet Farming:- Propagation of Foxtail millet crop is done through seeds.
Seed Rate, Season, Sowing and Spacing in Foxtail Millet Farming:- The seed rate depends on the type of Farming method and variety. On an average 8 to 10 kg /ha seed rate is required in case of sowing where as 15 kg/ha seed rate is required in case of broad casting method. The ideal time of sowing foxtail millet is June to august for rain-fed crop and for summer irrigated crop, the best time is January. However, every state in India has its own ideal conditions for sowing the crop. One can practice a suitable spacing of 25 cm x 10 cm and sowing depth differs from 2 cm to 3 cm.
Irrigation in Foxtail Millet Farming:- This crop can survive in drought conditions and requires minimal water. However, avoid water stress at the time of grain/seed forming. Frequency of irrigation depends on soil moisture level and climate. Ensure the soil has well moisture and avoid any over watering. In case of heavy rains, of floods make sure the field drains out quickly.
Manures and Fertilizers in Foxtail Millet Farming:- You can adopt the similar practices of manures and fertilizes of small millet (finger millet). You can find about this : here.
Inter crops in Foxtail Millet Farming:- You can grow other crops along with this for additional income to increase the soil fertility.
- Foxtail millet with Pigeon pea
- Foxtail millet with Black gram
- Foxtail millet with Dolichos
- Foxtail millet with Castor
- Foxtail millet with Maize
- Foxtail millet with Sorghum
- Foxtail millet with Finger millet
- Foxtail millet with Little millet
- Foxtail millet with Brassicas
- Foxtail millet with Mustard
Intercultural Operations in Foxtail Millet Farming:-
- Weed Control: Weed free environment is essential for any successful crop Farming. Weeding may be done twice; 15 to 20 days after emergence and about 15 days later after first weeding.
- Crop Rotation: Crop rotation ensures soil fertility and good yield. You can rotate with legume crops like green gram, soybean, horse gram black gram, field gram, or peanut. Avoid growing foxtail millet in the same field for consecutive years.
Pests and Diseases in Foxtail Millet Farming:- Some of the common diseases in foxtail millet farming are; ‘leaf and head blast’, ‘green ear’ and ‘smut disease’. Leaf and head blast disease is caused by “Magnaporthe grisea” where as green ear caused by “Sclerospora graminicola” and smut disease is caused by “Ustilago crameri”. You should also protect the crop from birds and rodents.
Note: Your local agriculture / horticulture department is a good source to find information about pests and diseases in foxtail millet Farming. Don’t experiment on your own without knowing the symptoms and causes of pests and diseases in millet crops.
Harvesting in Foxtail Millet Farming:- This crop can be harvested for green fodder or hay after 70 to 75 days of sowing depending on the variety. Foxtail millet is self-pollinated and will produce seeds in 85 to 95 days in case of grain/seed production. Hand or machine harvesting can be carried out. post harvesting includes threshing the crop and grading the seeds.
Yield in Foxtail Millet Farming:- Yield of the foxtail millet depends on variety, soil type, climate and other agricultural / horticultural management practices
- If the crop is grown for green fodder or hay: One can obtain 15,000 to 25,000 kg/ha of green fodder or 3,000 to 4,500 kg/ha of hay
- If the crop is grown for grains/seeds: One can obtain 900 to 1000 kg/ha of grain under ideal conditions.
Marketing of Foxtail Millet:- After threshing the crop, the grains should be cleaned and graded and packed. You can transport to local grain mills or any food processing units.