Proso Millet Farming, Cultivation Practices

Introduction to Proso millet farming

Proso millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) is a grain crop, growing from seed each year. Proso millet is also called as wild Proso millet, birdseed millet, broom corn millet, broomcorn millet, common millet, hog millet, Kashfi millet, red millet, Hershey millet, panic millet, and white millet. Proso millet is a member of the tribe Paniceae of the Panicoideae subfamily of grasses. Proso millet is a warm-season grass with a growing season of 60 to 100 days. It is a highly nutritious cereal grain used for human consumption, birdseed, and ethanol production. The harvested grain is a seed enclosed in a hull that is typically white or creamy-white, yellow or red, but can be gray, brown, or black. White-seeded varieties are mostly grown, followed by red-seeded varieties.

A step by step guide to Proso millet farming

Proso millet is important minor millet grown in India and the crop can evade drought by its quick maturity. Being a short duration crop with low water requirement, this escapes drought period, so, offers better prospects for intensive cultivation in dryland areas. Proso millet is a common and important minor millet belonging to the family Gramineae. This short duration Proso millet variety is widely grown in India. It is specially adapted to hot summer in tropics and high altitudes, where the growing season is very short and the soil it marginal and poor in fertility. Among grain crops, the Proso millet has the lowest water requirement; it grows on any kind of soil except coarse sand. While under unirrigated conditions, Proso millet is grown during Kharif season but in areas where irrigation facilities are available; this is profitably grown as a summer catch crop in high-intensity rotations.

A guide to Proso millet farming.
A guide to Proso millet farming.

Proso millet varieties

Latest and popular Proso millet varieties recommended for different states of India;

Tamil Nadu – Co-5, TNAU 151, TNAU 164, TNAU 145, TNAU 202, CO 4, K 2, CO 3,CO 2, GPUP 21, GPUP 8 , TNPm-230

Uttarakhand – PRC 1, TNAU 145, 164, 151

Karnataka – GPUP 8, GPUP 21, TNAU 145, TNAU-151, TNAU-164, TNAU-202, TNPm-230, DHP-2769

Bihar – BR-7, TNAU 164, 145, PR 18, TNAU-202, TNPm-230

Andhra Pradesh – Sagar, Nagarjuna, CO 4, CO 3, TNAU-151, TNAU-164, TNAU-202, TNPm-230

Uttar Pradesh – Bhawna, PRC 1, TNAU 145, 164, 151

Climatic and soil requirements for Proso millet famring

Proso millet is a crop of warm climate. Proso millet is grown extensively in warm regions of the world. It is a highly drought-resistant crop and can be grown in areas where there is scanty rainfall. It can withstand water stagnation to some extent. It is a hardy crop that completes its life cycle in a short time of span.

Proso millet crop can be grown in rich and poor soils, having variable texture, coarse sands are not suited for Proso millet cultivation. Well-drained loam soil or sandy loam soils free from Kankar and rise in organic matter are ideal for Proso millet cultivation.

Area and distribution of Proso millet

Proso millet crop is one of the oldest grain crops and is grown in many parts of the world known by different names such as broom corn millet, hog millet, Hershey millet, Proso millet, and common millet, etc. Proso millet is grown extensively in India, Japan, China, Egypt, Arabia, and Western Europe. In India Proso millet crop is largely grown in Madhya Pradesh, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka.

Production of Proso millet

Proso millet is planted as an emergency cash crop for situations where other crops have failed, been hailed out, or were never planted due to unfavorable conditions. Proso millet may be beneficial in a crop rotation. In rotation, it has the benefit of enhancing weed control, especially with winter annual grasses in winter wheat. Proso is versatile in that it can be successfully grown on many soil types and probably better adapted than most crops to “poor” land. Proso millet has high water use efficiency and can produce a crop with 13 or 14 inches of water. Planting rate of Proso millet is 20 to 30 lbs pure live seed per acre and the crop is drill planted, rather than in rows.

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Spacing and seed rate in Proso millet farming

The spacing of Proso millet plants – 25 cms between rows and 10 cm between plants within a row

A seed rate of Proso millet – 10 kg/ha for line sowing 15 kg/ha for broadcasting

Proso millet growth

Proso millet crop develops from a relatively large seed. The seed hulls are slow to decay and could remain attached to the primary roots even after the plant is mature. Emergence begins about the third week of May, which is about the same time that yellow foxtail is first observed. Seed germination and the emergence of Proso millet continue throughout the season. Plants could emerge after cereal crops have been harvested and these late-emerging plants may still be capable of producing seeds before fall frosts arrive. New plants will emerge in crops like white beans, corn, and soybeans as the crop matures and the crop canopy is reduced. These plants will not normally produce viable seeds and seed germination tends to be more sporadic with the dark-seeded Proso millet than with the forms having lighter colored seeds. Although many Proso millet seeds germinate at or near the soil surface, the average germination depth is about 2.5 cm. Seedlings can emerge from depths of about 7.5 to 13.5 cm depending on soil type and tilth.

Seeds from the dark-seeded Proso millet shatter readily when they are mature and the seeds mature at different stages on the same plant. Biotypes with lighter-colored seeds will shed a few seeds as they mature but there is a strong tendency to retain the seeds on the plant. The stems and panicle branches are still green when the Proso millet seeds ripen.

Moderate infestations of Proso millet will produce about 2000 to 3000 seeds per square meter. Heavy infestations can produce at least 40,000 to 45,000 seeds per square meter. The Proso millet seeds can be spread quite easily by combines, forage harvesters and other farm equipment. Then, small patches of black Proso millet in one year can turn into full-field infestations in two or more years.

Seed sowing in Proso millet farming

The importance of healthy and disease-free Proso millet seed hardly needs to be emphasized. Proso millet is no exception. The seed should be treated with organo-mercurial compounds like Ceresan at the rate of 2.5g per Kg of seed before sowing.

Time of Sowing – As a Kharif crop, Proso millet must be sown in the first fortnight of July with the onset of monsoon rains and as a summer crop it must be sown by the middle of April. During summer, it would be desirable to sow Proso millet seed as soon as the harvesting of the Rabi crop is over.

Seed Rate and Method of Sowing – Proso millet can be sown by broadcasting or drilling seeds in furrows 3 to 4 centimeter deep. Row to row distance must be kept 25 centimeter and plant to plant 10 centimeter. Line sowing ensures better seed germination, cuts down seed requirement and facilitates intercultural operations compare to broadcast sowing. Depending upon the method of sowing, 8 to 12 kg seed is required for sowing one hectare of land.

Manures and fertilizers in Proso millet farming

Proso millet crop being a short duration crop requires relatively less amount of nutrients compared to other cereals. To get a good Proso millet crop, general fertilizer recommendations under irrigated conditions are 40-60 kg nitrogen, 30 kg P2O5, and 20 kg K2O per hectare. Apply half of the nitrogen and whole amount of phosphorus and potash as a basal dose at the time of seed sowing. The remaining half of nitrogen must be applied at the time of the first irrigation. Under the rainfed condition, the fertilizer dose is reduced to half of the irrigated crop. If organic manure is available, it can be added to the soil about a month before sowing at the rate of 4 to 10 tonnes per hectare.

Irrigation requirement for Proso millet farming

Proso millet crop is grown as a dry land crop without any supplemental irrigation. Though, there is a very small number of acres produced in the state that are irrigated.

Major diseases of Proso millet crop

Insect Pests – Among insects, shoot fly is important for this Proso millet crop. This insect damages the crop in the seedling stage and applies 15 kg of Thimet granules per hectare in the soil at the time of field preparation.

The following points are the three major diseases of Proso millet. The diseases are;

  1. Head Smut
  2. Grain Smut
  3. Leaf Spot

Head Smut – Head smut is a common disease of Proso millet crop. Then, the affected panicles become elongated and thickened. The smut masses rupture before harvest and this is a seed-borne disease and can be controlled by treating seeds with organo-mercurial compounds. Sometimes bacterial streak is noticed. It can be mainly controlled by seed treatment with 5% magnesium arsenate at the rate of one gm of the chemical in one kg of seed. The entire inflorescence is modified into a sorus enclosed by a grayish-white false membrane and the membrane ruptures as the plants mature, exposing the dark-brown spore mass and the vascular tissues of the smutted panicle.

Management – The disease is externally seed-borne, only fungicidal seed treatment is effective. Carboxin and Benomyl give control of smut reducing the incidence by 99% and increasing the yield by 136%.

Leaf Spot – Leaf spot disease caused by Bipolaris panici-miliacei is seed transmitted disease. Seed infection causes seed rotting, coleoptiles spot, and seedling blight.

Management – Growing resistant plant varieties such as RAUM 7 is recommended.

Grain Smut – The disease is caused by Sphacelotheca sorghi and the disease is also known as covered or kernel smut. Most of the grains are transformed into white grayish sacs and the sori are slightly pointed to oval and filled with black powder.

Management – The pathogen perpetuates through contaminated seeds and can be managed by seed treatment, early collection, and burning of diseased ears on appearance and crop rotation for 2 to 3 years.

Harvesting and Threshing of Proso millet

Proso millet is ready for harvest after 65 to 75 days of sowing in most of the varieties. Harvest the Proso millet crop when it is about to mature. Then, the seeds in the tip of upper heads ripe and shatter before the lower seeds and later panicles get mature. Therefore, the crop must be harvested when about two-thirds of seeds are ripe. The crop is threshed with hand or bullocks. With an improved package of practices, it is possible to harvest 20 to 23 quintals of grain and 50-60 quintals of straw per hectare.

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