Types of Millets In India, Cultivation FAQs

Introduction on Types of Millets in India, planting FAQs: Millets are widely cultivated around the world as cereal crops or grains for food and fodder. Millets are one of the friendly crops to the farmers in India. Millets production can be seen as an approach for a sustainable agriculture sector and a healthy world. Maximum Millet cultivation happens in the Kharif season, i.e. during the monsoon season. Many of the Millets can be cultivated in the second season in regions that receive more than 800mm of rain that is a Rabi crop (during the post-monsoon, early winter months). A few Millets can even grow in the 3rd season with the right soil conditions and geography in some areas, during the dark days of the winter season.

Millets are extremely resistant to pest attacks. Millet is defined as any of several species of cereal grasses in the Poaceae family, cultivated for their small edible seeds. Remember that they should not be sown more than 2 inches deep, and sowing would be good with some soils even shallower for Millets cultivation. That improves crop production with uniform and appropriate spacing in lines rather than broadcasting. Increasing the value of such grains helps in the crops getting fairly uniform access to resources resulting in a more uniform harvest significantly for both the market as well as domestic processing. Millets are grown around the world for fodder and human food and are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses. Due to their productivity, the Millets are favored under dry, high-temperature conditions. Pearl Millet, Finger Millet, Proso Millet, and foxtail Millet are the most widely cultivated Millets.

A Guide to Types of Millets In India, Planting Questions, Answers

Pearl Millet Field
Pearl Millet Field (Image credit: pixabay)

Importance of Millets Cultivation: Millets constitute an important staple in the semiarid tropics and ensure food and nutritional security for poor people, who cannot cultivate other food crops due to low rainfall and poor soil fertility. Millets are coarse grains such as Ragi, Bajra, and Jowar. They are highly nutritious and are used by rural people. They can be grown in low to medium fertile soils and in areas of low rainfall. Jowar, Bajra, and Ragi are the important Millets cultivated in India. Nearly about 40% of the food produced in India is wasted every year.

Millets provide the best option to the farmers for achieving the main objectives of farming i.e., profitability, adaptability, and sustainability. The Millets cultivation depends on some farming systems;

  • Millets are the ‘miracle grains’ or crops of the future as they can not only grow under harsh circumstances but are drought-resistant crops that need fewer external inputs.
  • Millets are dual-purpose crops. It is cultivated as food and fodder, thus providing food or livelihood security to millions of households and contributing to the economic efficiency of farming.
  • It contributes to mitigating climate change as it helps reduce the atmospheric carbon pressure CO2. On the contrary, Wheat being a thermally sensitive crop and the Paddy crop is the main contributor to climate change through methane emission.
  • Millets production does not depend on the use of chemical fertilizers. The Millet does not attract pests and is not affected by storage.
  • Millets are tolerant of increased temperatures, droughts, and floods. These are cultivated well in dry zones or rain-fed regions.
  • Water requirement is less as compared to other crops due to an efficient root system.
  • The Millets are gain importance to meet the food demand in the highly populated regions.
  • Storage life is comparatively high about 2 years or beyond.
  • Millets farming needs a small investment.
  • Inputs added are mostly organic.
  • Millets produce more tillers or branches compared to other crops.
  • They provide both food and fodder.

Millets Cultivation in India

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Millet Cultivation in India
Millet Cultivation in India (Image credit: pixabay)

Millets are drought-resistant crops. The major Millet crops cultivated in India are Sorghum, Pearl Millet, and Finger Millet. Also, India grows a rich array of bio-genetically diverse and indigenous varieties of “Small Millets” such as Kodo, Kutki, Chenna, and Sanwa.

Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Haryana are the major Millet producers in India.

Different Types of Millets

1. Foxtail Millet is also called Italian Millet

Foxtail Millet or Italian Millet is one of the oldest cultivated crops in India. It has generally been displaced by Sudan grasses as late-sown hay crops. It needs warm weather conditions and matures quickly in the hot summer months. It is grown in semi-arid regions and has a low water requirement, though it does not recover well from drought conditions. A successful production is due almost entirely to its short growing season. It can be planted when it is too late to plant most other crops.

2. Pearl Millet, also called cattail Millet, and candle Millet

It is used as a temporary summer pasture crop. In some areas, it is also grown as a food crop. It is a tall, erect, annual bunchgrass growing from 6 to 15 feet in height. It is well adapted to nutrient-poor, sandy soils in low rainfall regions. Stems are pithy and plant leaves are long-pointed with finely serrated margins.

Pearl Millet is the 2nd important Millet of India. The area under the crop is about 29.2 million acres, and the annual production of grain is about 3 million tonnes. It is mainly cultivated in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. It is mainly suited to low rainfall regions. It is grown in areas where the rainfall is heavier than about 10.5 cm annually. It is the most popular Millet type that you must have tasted is pearl Millet or Bajra. With umpteen health advantages, it is prepared in various forms, including roti and khichdi. It contains iron, protein, fiber, and minerals like calcium and magnesium. That is why it must be consumed daily to have a balanced diet.

3. Proso Millet, also called Broomcorn Millet, Hog Millet, and Hershey Millet

Proso Millet or Hershey Milletis has grown as a grain crop for human food. It is a short-season crop that requires only 60 to 75 days from seeding to maturity. It is grown as a late-seeded, short-season summer catch crop. Moderately warm weather conditions are necessary for good plant growth. It has the lowest water requirement of any grain crop, and it is subject to drought injury because of its shallow root system. It does not cultivate well on coarse sandy soil.

4. Sorghum, also called Jowar

India is one of the leading countries in the world in sorghum production. The production of the grain is estimated at 7.4 million tonnes. It is mainly cultivated in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan. Sorghum is also commonly known as Jowar. It is used to make Rotis and other Indian bread. It is mainly recommended to people with wheat intolerance.

5. Buckwheat Millet

Buckwheat Millet is the most popular type of Millet in India. It is also called Kuttu. It is beneficial for good cardiovascular health and must be incorporated into your diet if you want to lose weight. It also protects against breast cancer, childhood asthma, and gallstones.

6. Kodo Millet

Kodo Millet is also called Kodon. It is easily digestible and contains higher amounts of lecithin. Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, and Karnataka are the largely produced Kodo Millet states in India. It can be grown in gravelly and stony soil such as in the hilly region.  It is a high drought resistance crop and it is the coarsest of all food grains. It is grown mostly in a warm and dry climate. Therefore, it is highly drought tolerant and can be grown in areas where rainfall is scanty and erratic. This Millet well thrives in areas receiving only 40 to 50-centimeter annual rainfall. It is grown from gravelly and stony upland poor soils to loam soils. Deep, loamy, fertile soils and rich in organic matter are preferred for the satisfactory growth of Millets. For Kodo Millet growth, well-drained soils with adequate moisture supply are required.

7. Japanese Millet is also called Barnyard Millet

Japanese Millet is grown mainly as a forage grass. It resembles barnyard grass considered a weed in several places. It is mainly grown as a late-season green feed in temperate climate conditions with humid or sub-humid conditions. It makes the most rapid growth under favorable weather conditions. The growth habit of this annual grass is an erect plant 2 to 4 feet tall with a panicle inflorescence made up of 5 to 15 sessile erect branches. Seeds are slightly longer than wide and are larger compared to those of barnyard grass. It makes its best growth on good soils and it is not subject to main fungal diseases, and it is susceptible to several species of head smuts.

8. Finger Millet, also known as ragi, and African Millet.

Finger Millet is cultivated as a food crop. It grows best in moist climate conditions in almost any type of soil. It does not do well in locations of heavy rains but prefers damp conditions. This annual Millet generally grows about 3 to 4 feet tall and tillers freely. Helminthosporium diseases can cause leaf spots, seedling blight, and head blight in this Finger Millet. Grain smut has been reported. It is a red-colored grain that is popularly called Ragi.

9. Barnyard Millet

Barnyard is also called Sanwa. It is another type of Millet that is nutritionally dense with high fiber content. It is popular in hills especially the Himalayas and important content of hill and tribal agriculture. It is grown by raising nurseries and transplanting the seedlings in the main field. The barnyard Millet cultivation is done mostly in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Uttarakhand. Approximately the yield potential of the barnyard Millet is more than 2500 kg/ha.

Barnyard Millet has become one of the important minor Millet crops in Asia. The biggest producer of barnyard Millet is India. It is a short-duration crop that can grow in adverse environmental conditions with almost no input and can withstand several biotic and abiotic stresses.

10. Browntop Millet

Browntop Millet is mainly grown for hay and pasture. It mainly provides an excellent source of food for game birds. It is a quick-growing annual 2 to 4 feet tall with an open panicle 2 to 6 inches long. Compared to the pearl Millet its forage yields are less, but it has a shorter growing season.

Conditions and Schemes Required for Millet Farming

Millets mainly grow well on well-drained loamy soils. Proso Millet does not grow well on sandy soils. For the sprouting and germination of the Millet seeds, warm and temperate climate conditions are essential since they are susceptible to damage by cold weather conditions and frosts.

Most Millets have a short growing season and they can be grown well in areas where other crops fail to grow. For example, the Sorghum crop can be cultivated even in drought conditions. Most Millets can do with little moisture since they have effective water utilization abilities.

Schemes for Millet farming – Some of the schemes by the Indian Government for Millets production are;

INSIMP (Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millet Promotion) – It is a part of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana” – RKVY scheme and it is useful to support Millet production.

Rainfed Area Development Program – RADP – It is a component of the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana – RKVY.

Diseases and Their Control for Millet

  • Head Smut – It can be a problem in Proso Millet but this problem can be controlled by seed treatment.
  • Kernel Smut – It can be present in both Proso and foxtail Millet. This disease needs seed treatment and crop rotation for effective control, as the inoculum will remain in the soil for several years.
  • Bacterial Stripe Disease – The affected plants have brown water-soaked streaks on the leaf, blades, sheaths, and stems.

Insects and Mites and Their Control for Millet Production

Wheat Curl Mite – This insect can transmit wheat streak mosaic to winter wheat. This can be prevented from acting as a host.

Grasshoppers – This insect has been serious on Millets.

Armyworms – This insect can be prevalent in Millets but can be controlled by insecticides.

Frequently Asked Questions about Millet Farming

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Millet Farming
Millet Farming (Pic source: pixabay)

What are Millets explain?

Millets have several benefits and are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses. These are widely grown around the world. These are indigenous to many parts of the world.

What is the importance of Millets?

Millets are coarse grains and the important grains are Ragi, Bajra, and Jowar. Generally, they are highly nutritious and are used by rural people. They can be grown in low rainfall areas and low to medium fertile soils.

Which are Millets?

Millets are coarse grains and rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They mainly include Jowar (sorghum), Ragi or Finger Millet, foxtail Millet, Kodo Millet, Little Millet, Bajra or Pearl Millet, Proso Millet, and Barnyard Millet. They are highly tolerant of drought and extreme weather conditions.

How long does it take to grow Millet?

Generally, it takes 60 days to grow Millet to maturity means good seed formation.

Where do farmers grow Millets?

Farmers used to grow the little Millet during the Kharif season as a mixed crop in northern and southern Karnataka. They were consumed daily in Haveri, Dharwad, Gadag, and Bagalkot, etc.

In which season Millet is grown in India?

In India, the Millet is grown mainly in Kharif. Seed sowing takes place between May and September, and harvesting between September and February. The plants are tall, annuals, growing to a height of about 1.8 to 4.5 inches.

Is Millet easy to grow?

Millet is a fast-growing crop and easy to grow the crop.

Does Millet need a lot of water?

Normal average rainfalls suffice for the Millet growth, so additional watering isn’t necessary for Millets. If the grasses and seed heads have turned golden brown color and then harvest Millet.

What are the different types of Millets?

The different types of Millets are Finger Millet (Ragi), Foxtail Millet (Kakum/Kangni), Sorghum Millet (Jowar), Pearl Millet (Bajra), Buckwheat Millet (Kuttu), Amaranth Millet (Rajgira/Ramdana/Chola), Little Millet (Moraiyo/Kutki/Shavan/Sama), and Barnyard Millet.

Can Millets grow in harsh conditions?

Millets are grown well to dry, infertile soils than most other crops, and are often cultivated under extremely harsh conditions – for example, high-temperature levels, low and erratic precipitation.

How deep do you plant Pearl Millet?

Pearl Millet must be seeded about ½ inch to ¾ inch deep.

Is Millet better than rice?

Millet is healthier for many people because it is rich in protein and fiber, which is much more as compared to rice. A healthy lifestyle is possible if you can opt for unpolished Millets. Because this is the unprocessed ones are packed with the goodness of minerals and vitamins.

Is Millet a food crop?

Yes, Millets are used as a food crop and these are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses. Millets are widely grown around the world as cereal and food crops.

Is Millet a good cover crop?

Millet is a tall and bunching grass that can get up to about 12 feet high. It provides excellent ground cover. It is an ideal cover crop for soils with low moisture, low fertility, and in areas with high temperatures.

Which state is the largest Millet producer in India?

The highest Pearl Millet producing state is Rajasthan. The crop is grown for a dual purpose as food for consumption and livestock fodder. Under Millets cultivation, India has approximately 14 million hectares of land. It produces mainly in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Karnataka leading in Millet farming in India around 14 million tonnes a year.

Where Millets are grown in India?

Millets are mostly cultivated in low-fertile land, tribal and rain-fed, and mountainous regions. In India, these areas include Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana.

In which area Millets are grown?

With 97% of Millet production is done in developing countries and Millets are important crops in the semiarid tropics regions of Asia and Africa.

In which climate Millet is grown?

Millets are mostly cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical regions. It is a heat-loving plant and for its germination, the minimum temperature required is 8 to 10°C. During the growth, a mean temperature level of 26-29°C is best for proper development and good crop yield.

What are the two types of Millet?

The Millets can be divided into two categories. They are pearl Millet and “small” Millets.

How many types of Millets are there in India?

There are many types of Millets available in India. That includes Sorghum, Foxtail Millet, Proso Millet, Finger Millet, Pearl Millet, and Buckwheat.

What are the growing conditions for Millet?

Millet must be planted after soil temperatures have warmed to about 65°F, relatively late in the season. Millet grows well in warm and fertile soils; it works well to plow and work in a manured sod in early spring. The seedbed should be well-drained, and firm.

Will Millet regrow after cutting?

Pearl Millet is mainly suited for grazing as it is higher-yielding and will regrow after grazing. It starts to be grazed once it reaches a height of about 20 to 24 inches. It will regrow 8 to 12 inches of stubble is left and this depending on conditions you can re-graze it in 10 to 20 days.

Which stage is the most critical stage of Pearl Millet?

The water absorbed by pearl Millet during the 1st month after sowing is small. Hence the early growth phase after seedling emergence is not highly sensitive to moisture stress. The period of about 40 to 65 days after sowing when flowering and grain formation stages are very sensitive to moisture stress.

Which Millet grows fast?

Barnyard Millet is the fastest growing crop and producing a crop in 6 weeks.

In which month Millet is sown?

As a summer crop, Proso Millet must be sown by the middle of April. It would be desirable to sow Proso Millet during the summer season.

Which state has the highest consumption of Millets?

The highest consumption of small Millets is in Assam and Bihar states. The highest areas of Millets are available in Madhya Pradesh about 32.4%. And next highest areas are Chhattisgarh about 19.5%, Uttarakhand about 8% and Maharashtra about 7.8%, Gujarat (5.3%), and Tamil Nadu (with 3.9%).

Why are Millets expensive?

Millet products are more expensive. The government of India has invested extensively in Paddy cultivation and processing and as a result cost of processing is low.

Which is the largest producer of Millet?

The largest Millet producers in the world are India, Niger, and China, accounting for more than about 55% of global production. For many years, India was the world’s major Millet producer. However, Millet production has increased dramatically in Africa in recent years.

Does Millet need full sun?

Direct sow Millet seeds in full sun after all danger of frost. Remove weeds and work organic matter into the top about 6 to 8 inches of soil. Sow thinly and evenly and then cover with ½ inch of fine soil.



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