Crop Management Guide -

Pearl millet is important forage of tropical climate grown over a wide range of soils. It is nutritious and palatable and can be fed as green, dry or as conserved fodder in the form of silage or hay.

    On an average it contains

  • 7-10 % crude protein,
  • 56-64 %, neutral detergent fibre,
  • 38-41 % acid detergent fibre, 33-34 % cellulose and
  • 18-23 % hemi cellulose on dry matter basis when harvested at 50 % flowering stage.
  • It survives well in condition of soil moisture stress and performs better than sorghum.

    Soil and its preparation

  • Well-drained sandy loam to loam soils with a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5 are ideally suited for its growth.
  • The crop does not tolerate soil acidity. The field should be thoroughly prepared and leveled for weeds free sowing.
  • Better crop stand and growth is obtained on well-prepared soils.
  • One ploughing followed by two harrowings (crosswise) and planking are sufficient to get a good seed bed.
  • The crop can't tolerate longer water stagnation hence, good drainage facility is important.

    Sowing time

  • Sowing should be done at distance of 25-30 cm row to row using a seed rate of 25-40 kg/ha for bold seeded varieties.
  • For small seeded Sudan types, a seed rate of 25-30 kg/ha is sufficient.
  • The seed should not be placed more than 2.0 - 2.5 cm depth.

    Intercropping

  • For summer sowing, March to mid-April is the best period. Monsoon season crop should be sown preferably during first fortnight of July after commencement of rains.
  • In southern India, it is grown during rabi season and sowing is done in October-November.

    Seed rate and sowing method

  • Sowing should be done in lines at distance of 25 cm row to row, using a seed rate of 10-12 kg/ha.
  • Being small seeded crop, its seeds should not be placed more than 1.5-2.0 cm deep.
  • The seed should be treated with Agrosan GN or Thiram @ 3.0 gm/kg seed before sowing to control seed borne pathogens.

    Intercropping

  • Forage pearl millet is grown in association with guar, cowpea and lablab in semi-arid to arid areas.
  • The intercropping of pearl millet + cowpea in 1:1 row ratio has been found superior in most of the growing situations.

    Nutrient management

  • Application of 10 t FYM/ha to the crop match the requirement of secondary & micro nutrients.
  • Basal application of 50:30:30 kg N: P O : K O/ha should be given at sowing time followed by top dressing with 30kg N/ha one month after sowing.
  • In rainfed situation, 20-30 kg N/ha may be applied coinciding with rain at 30-35 day stage.
  • If dry spell prevails, spraying of 2 % urea solution should be done for quicker biomass production.
  • Azospirillum treated seed improves the yield and saves 15-20 % lesser Nitrogenous fertilizers

    Water management

  • July sown rainy season crop may also need 1-2 irrigations, depending upon distribution of rains.
  • For summer sown crop 4-5 irrigations are required due to high evaporative demand.

    Weed management

  • One hoeing through weeder cum mulcher at critical crop stage i.e. 3-4 weeks is very effective to control the weeds.
  • Use of herbicide like atrazine @ 0.50 kg a.i. /ha as preemergence in 600 litres of water controls the weeds effectively.
  • This should be applied only in pure crop of pearl millet. In intercropping of pearl millet with cowpea or guar, pre emergence spraying of alachlor @ 1.0 kg a.i. /ha should be done.

    Disease and insect-pest management

  • Pearl millet is attacked by number of insects & disease pathogens
  • Ergot, downy mildew and smut are most common diseases. In forage pearl millet dependence on chemicals for control of insect-pest and diseases is not preferred. Hence, seed dressing with Metalaxyl @ 2.0 g/kg seeds or spray of Ridomil @1000 ppm is considered as effective control method.
  • Shoot fly is the common insect attacking the pearl millet, which can be controlled with spray of Carbofuran @ 125 ml per hectare.
  • Clean cultivation and seed treatment are adopted for reducing the damage from insect-pest and diseases in forage pearl millet.

    Harvesting management

  • Harvesting of single cut varieties is to be done at 55 - 60 days after sowing (initiation of flowering).
  • Whereas, in case of multi-cut varieties, first cut at 40-45 days after sowing and subsequent cuts are taken at 30 days of interval.

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