Kodo Millet Farming; Cultivation Practices

Kodo Millet Farming and Cultivation Practices:

Today, we are learning about Kodo Millet Farming (Varugu).


Kodo millet is a very drought resistant crop. It is the coarsest of every food grain. The Kodo millet, also known as cow grass, rice grass, ditch millet, Native Paspalum, or Indian Crown Grass originates in tropical Africa. It is probable to have been domesticated in India 3000 years ago. The grain is covered with a horny seed coat which must be removed before cooking. The grain contains 8.3 percent protein, 1.4 percent fat, 65.6 percent carbohydrates & 2.9 percent ash. The grain is recommended as a substitute for rice to patients suffers from diabetes disease.

Kodo Millet is largely developed in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, and Karnataka. Kodo millet is also cultivated in the Jhum field of Arunachal Pradesh.

Importance of Kodo millet farming:

Kodo Millet Grains.
Kodo Millet Grains.

The importance of Kodo millet farming is given below;

  • Kodo millets are highly tolerant to increased temperatures, zones or rain-fed areas under marginal conditions of soil fertility and moisture. These are developed in the sand dunes of Rajasthan.
  • Water requirement is less as compared to other crops millet can make do with 28% of paddy’s rainfall needs.
  • Kodo millets farming require a small investment.
  • Kodo millets are a rich source of nutrients.
  • Millets are richer in calcium, iron, beta-carotene, etc. than rice & wheat.
  • Millets help ensures diabetes, improves digestive system, reduces cancer risk and strengthen the immune system.
  • Millets contain high amounts of lecithin are helpful for strengthening the nervous system.
  • The millets don’t need synthetic fertilizers or pesticide and generally grown with organic inputs. The fact that millets are less affected by diseases & pests thus keeps pesticides at bay.
  • Millets help in dropping the atmospheric CO2 and thus contribute to mitigating climate change. They have a good ability to sequester carbon & so help climate adaptation, particularly the global projection of increased methane emission from rice fields.

Climate requirements for Kodo millet farming:

Generally, the Kodo millets are grown in tropical as well as sub-tropical up to an altitude of 2,100m. It is a heat-loving plant & for its germination, the minimum temperature required is 8- 10°c. A mean temperature range of 26 to 29°c during the growth is best for proper development and good crop yield. It is grown where rainfall ranges from 500 to 900mm. Kodo Millet has a heavy water requirement which grows well in moderate rainfall of 50 to 60cm.

Kodo millet is developed mostly in a warm and dry climate. It is highly drought tolerant and, therefore, can be grown in areas where rainfall is scanty & erratic. It is well; thriving in areas receiving 40 to 50-centimeter annual rainfall.

Soil requirements for Kodo millet farming:

Kodo millet is grown from gravelly & stony upland poor soils to loam soils. Deep, loamy, fertile soils, rich in organic matter, are chosen for satisfactory growth. Well-drained soils with adequate moisture supply are necessary for uninterrupted growth of this crop. Kodo millet has wide adaptability to different soil from very poor to very fertile and can tolerate a certain degree of alkalinity. The best soils are alluvial, loamy & sandy soil with good drainage. Kodo millet can be grown in gravelly & stony soil such as in the hilly region.

Read: Crab Culture Training In India.

Field preparation in Kodo millets:

The first ploughing must be done deep with a soil turning plough at the onset of monsoon. Fine tilth is imperative for proper germination & crop establishment.

Crop-specific issues:

Kodo millet is an annual tufted grass that grows to 90 cm high. Some forms have been reported to be poisonous to humans & animals, possibly because of a fungus infecting the grain. The grain is enclosed in hard, corneous, persistent husks that are hard to remove. The grain may vary in color from light red to dark grey color. Compared to other small millets, it has a long-crop cycle, ranging from 105 – 120 days.

Kodo millet is one of the hardiest among the small millets and produces well in shallow as well as deep soils; it is also adapted to waterlogged soils. The seeds can remain dormant & be stored for many years. It can make grain yields of 850 kg/ha without fertilizer and up to 1600 kg/ha with the application of N and P.

Irrigation requirement for Kodo millet crop:

Kharif season crop does not need any irrigation; it is mostly grown as a rain-fed crop. In the absence of rains one or two irrigation can be completed. During heavy rains, the excess water from the field must be drained out.

Seed spacing/Plant spacing of Kodo millets:

Row-to-row seed spacing is maintained 20 to 25 cm and plant-to-plant spacing is maintained 8 to 10 cm.

The seed rate of Kodo millets:

The seed rate of Kodo millet will be 10 kg per for line sowing and 15 kg per ha for broadcasting.

Seed production:

Seed production of Kodo millet can be done in June – July, and February – March month. The pollination should not coincide with rains for quality and efficient seed setting.

Manures and fertilizers:

Addition of organic manures is always beneficial since it helps to develop the water retention capacity of soil in addition to providing essential nutrients to the crop plants. The crop must be manured with 5 to 10 t/ha FYM about a month before sowing. We can apply 40 kg nitrogen, 20 kg P2O5 and 20 kg K2O per hectare. All the fertilizers can be applied at the time of sowing in furrows.

Field standards:

The Kodo millet is a self-pollinated crop. The crop must be raised in isolation. The isolation distance maintained between the varieties is three meters for both foundation and certified seed production to maintain the varietal purity.

Read: How To Grow Teff Grains.

Seed standards:

The percentage of physical purity of certified & foundation seeds must be 97% with a minimum of 75% of germination capacity and 12% of moisture content. The presence of inert matter must not exceed 2.0%.

Seed selection and sowing:

Seeds used for seed production must be of good quality certified seeds from an authentic source. Seeds must be healthy with required germination percentage. In North India, sowing must be done in mid-June to mid-July and in South India during September – December. Suggested seed rate is 4 kg/acre (10 kg/ha). Selected seeds must be treated with Azospirillum @ 60 gm/kg of seeds. Treated seeds must be sown with a spacing of 30 x 10 cm. Seeds should be sown at the depth of 3 to 4 cm.

Weed management:

The seed production field must be maintained weed free from the initial stage. It is essential to control the weeds in the initial stages of plant growth, especially up to 35 to 40 days after sowing. Normally two weeding at an interval of 15 days is sufficient. Weeding can be made with hand hoe or a wheel hoe in the line sown the crop.


Roguing must be done often to remove the off-types, volunteer plants, and diseased plants from the seed production field to avoid genetic contamination. Roguing must be done up to the flowering stage. Maximum percentage of an off-type permitted at the final inspection is 0.05% of foundation & 0.10% of certified seed production.

Diseases and its control measure in Kodo millet:

The diseases and its control measure in Kodo millets are;

Rust: Brown pustules are seen on leaves. This disease hinders photosynthesis & cause considerable loss in yield.

Control: These diseases controlled to some extent by spraying of 0.2% solution of Mancozeb 75 WP.

Head smut (Sphacelotheca destruens): The affected ears are full of black masses enclosed with a thin yellow membrane. This is seed natural disease.

Control: Seed treated with thiram or ceresan @ 2.5 g/kg of seed & soaking seeds in hot water at 55°C for 7 to 12 minutes.

Insect-pests management:

Shoot fly: Apply Phorate @15 kg/ha (10% granules) in the soil at the point of field preparation or Carbofuran (Furadan) 3% granules @ 30 kg/ha in furrows or as a broadcast before sowing.

White ants stem borer: These are two main insect pests of Kodo crop. White ants can be controlled by applying 20-25 kg per hectare 5% Malathion or 2% methyl parathion dust in the soil before sowing.

Harvesting and processing:

Harvest is completed once the ear heads are physiologically mature. Generally, the crop is ready for harvest in 100 days. Physiologically mature ear heads will turn from the brown color to green color. Plants are cut close to the ground level, bundled & stacked for a week before threshing. The threshed grains are additionally cleaned by winnowing.

Drying and storage:

The cleaned seeds must be sun-dried to attain a safe moisture level of 12%. Care must be taken while drying to avoid mechanical injury to the seeds and contamination. Seeds can be stored up to 13 months under good storage conditions.

The yield of Kodo millet per acre/hectare:

With better package and practices; one can obtain 15 to 19 quintal grains and 30 to 40 quintal straws per hectare.

Read: How To Grow Pearl Millet.



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