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.
- 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.
On an average it contains
- 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.
Soil and its preparation
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Seed rate and sowing method
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Disease and insect-pest 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.