What are millets?
Millets are small-seeded grasses that are hardy and grow well in dry zones as rain-fed crops, under marginal conditions of soil fertility and moisture. Millets are one of the oldest foods known to humans and possibly the first cereal grain to be used for domestic purposes.

Millets are also unique due to their short growing season. They can develop from planted seeds to mature, ready to harvest plants in as little as 65 days. This is important in heavily populated areas. When stored properly, whole millets can be kept up to two or more years.

Millets are particularly high in minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. Finger millet (Ragi) is the richest in calcium content, about 10 times that of rice or wheat.

What kinds of millets are available?


Barnyard Millet 


Ragi / Finger Millet




Roti, porridge, dosa, mudde, payasam ragi flour can be used in many different ways. The grain is so tiny, it really cannot be polished all that much! Consequently, all the good stuff is retained. Consider this: It has thirty times as much of calcium as rice, more then ten times as much fiber and so on.



Foxtail Millet

Kodo Millet

Kodo Millet


Little Millet

Little Millet Grain

Little Millet Rice

Little Millet Panicle



Pearl Millet


India is the largest pearl millet producer and second largest producer of sorghum in the world. New alternative markets are emerging for sorghum and pearl millet grain uses.


Sorghum and pearl millet are in the initial stages of entering the commercial chain in both livestock and poultry feed, and in production of alcohol, starch and other products.





Common mycotoxins in sorghum are fumonisins, aflatoxins, T2 and ochratoxins. These toxigenic fungal strains grow when moisture content exceeds 12 per cent . Fumonisins and aflatoxins were very low in certain sorghum cultivars (Table 2). Sorghum and pearl millet are no different from maize or any other cereal as far as mycotoxin hazards are concerned but are relatively less susceptible to mycotoxins due to hard seed coat and phenolic compounds. Acotinic acid in sorghum is believed to be mycotoxin preventive agent (Hodges,2000).


In all the cases, the performance of layers with pearl millet feed was comparable to that on maize, but for yolk color.


 Following success of sorghum poultry feed coalition (Smith, 2005 and Reddy et al., 2006), CFC/FAO/ICRISAT project was initiated in Asia (India, China and Thailand) to enhance sorghum and pearl millet utilization in poultry feed/industry by addressing crop productivity, grain quality, grain use in poultry feed, micro financing aspects for improving the market opportunities through institutional arrangements involving universities, farmer organizations, non-governmental institutions and private companies. The results are encouraging in two clusters of Andhra Pradesh and three clusters of Maharashtra states of India.

Pearl millet grown for grain has a growth habit similar to sorghum. Pearl millet is a warm season crop, planted in early summer when soils have warmed up. In Indiana, it reaches the stage of 50% flowering in about 60 to 70 days from planting. The flowers and seeds occur in a spike at the end of the stem or tillers, looking somewhat like a cattail or bullrush head. Including the grain head, the plant will typically be about 5 feet tall in Indiana, although height can vary from 3 to 6 feet depending on variety and growing conditions. The crop is primarily cross pollinated, and following pollination, it takes a flower about 30 more days to develop into a mature seed. Grain heads will mature a few weeks prior to leaf dry down, but seed shatter is not usually a problem. When planted around June I in Indiana, it will usually be ready to harvest in late September.

Since pearl millet is planted relatively late, two preplant tillage operations are recommended, first to stimulate germination of weed seeds, then, several days later, to kill weed seedlings prior to planting. If planted in wide rows, row cultivation for weed control should be planned, especially if herbicide control is ineffective. Pearl millet is somewhat slow growing as a seedling, making preplant weed control important, but it soon takes off and competes well with late emerging weeds. With no-till planting, weed control by herbicides or effective use of cover crops is necessary to successfully establish pearl millet.

Pearl millet in flowering stage.

 kiran yadav

1. PhD, Agricultiral Extension and Communication (2012) from G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technolgy, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand with minor in Social Sciences. Ist Rank.

2. M.Sc, Agricultiral Extension and Communication (2008) from G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technolgy, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand. Ist Rank.

3. B.Sc, Home Sciences, Agricultiral Extension and Communication (2006) from G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technolgy, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand.

Sowing distance 

The distance between row to row of plants, and plant to plant within a row can be varied depending on the method of sowing. However it should be remembered that the sowing distance determines the optimum plant stand requirement.In general, if ridges are formed 45 cm apart, then the plants should be 12 to 15 cm apart within a row. If broad bed and furrow method is adopted, then the plant rows will be 60 cm apart on the bed and the distance between plants should be 10 cm to get the optimum population.

Thinning in Pearl Millet

If there are excess plants than the optimum plants (18 plants per sq m), then excess seedlings are thinned out when the plants are 12 to 15 cm in height. Any gaps found in the row could be filled by transplanting the plants available from the thinning operation.

It was found necessary to keep the crop weed free from 15 to 30 days after sowing. Weed competition is critical during 25 to 30 days after sowing.

Proso Millet