Barnyard Millet Farming – Production Practices

Barnyard Millet Farming – Production Practices

Introduction to Barnyard Millet Farming

Millets are one of the familiar foods to humans and the 1st cereal grain to be used for domestic purposes. These are small-seeded grasses that are robust and thrive in exclusively dry zones as rain-fed crops, under marginal conditions of moisture and soil fertility. Barnyard millet grain is a good source of carbohydrate, fibre, protein, and, most notably, contains more micronutrients (zinc and iron) compared to other major cereals. Due to their short growing season, millets are unique. Millets can easily develop from planted seeds to mature, ready to harvest plants in nearly 65 days. This is a type of short duration crops are highly important in heavily populated areas. When correctly stored, whole millets will keep for 2 or more years.

A Step by Step Guide to Barnyard Millet Farming

Barnyard millet is another food crop domesticated  and grown for both fodder and grain purposes. Barnyard millet is a multi-purpose crop that is cultivated for fodder and food. It is also called by some other names like Japanese Barnyard millet, Oodalu, Ooda, Sanwa, Sawan, and Sanwank. It is the best source of protein, which is extremely digestible and is an excellent source of dietary fibre with a good amount of insoluble and soluble fractions. In semiarid and arid regions of the world, millets are one of the major food sources and feature in the traditional cuisine of many others.

In addition to this, this Barnyard millet is a rich source of bone-building minerals like phosphorus and calcium. Barnyard millet has the best antioxidant profile that helps in improving the complications of non-communicable diseases and degenerative disorders like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc. So, it can be considered as a perfect replacement for rice in dosa/idli/dhokla batters. In Barnyard millet, the main fatty acid is linoleic acid followed by oleic and palmitic acid. Barnyard millet also expresses a high degree of retrogradation of amylase, which enables the formation of higher amounts of resistant starches. Hence it can be potentially optional for patients with cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. Barnyard millet is most effective in decreasing lipid and blood glucose levels.

Different Varieties of Barnyard Millet

Selection of short duration, high yielding, and drought-tolerant, disease-resistant, and agro-climatic varieties is the most important consideration for higher production of Barnyard millet. In recent years many varieties of Barnyard millet have been released. Several varieties with high yield potential have been released for different states. The list of latest and popular varieties suggested for different states.

State Varieties;

  • Uttarakhand – VL 207, PRJ 1, VL 172 and VL 29, PRS 1
  • Uttar Pradesh – VL 172 and VL 207, VL 29, Anurag
  • Tamil Nadu – CO 1 and CO 2, VL 29, VL 181
  • Karnataka – RAU 11, VL 172, VL 181
  • Andhra Pradesh – Co 1, VL 29
  • Bihar – VL 29, VL 181, RAU 2, RAU 3, RAU 9,
  • Jharkhand – RAU 9, VL 29, RAU 2, RAU 3,
  • Gujarat – VL 172
  • Maharashtra – VL 29
  • Madhya Pradesh – VL 181, VL 29, VL 172
  • Chattisgarh – VL 172, VL 29
  • Uttaranchal – VL 172, VL 21, VL 29

Soil Requirement for Barnyard Millet Farming

The crop is grown on several types of soils, but reasonably fertile and free-draining sandy loam soils are preferred. Barnyard millet cannot accept waterlogging. It thrives best on red lateritic loams. Barnyard millet is mainly grown in Kharif season in shallow soils with low moisture-holding capacity while rice is planted in deep soils with better moisture availability. Frequently Barnyard millet and rice are found in the same field.

Cover Crop or Green Manure

Japanese millet is a weed-suppressing cover crop that can grow up to 4 ft in 65 days and it is considered the best smother crop and has been shown to decrease the dry weight and the number of plants of yellow nutsedge through root competition for water and nutrients. When Barnyard millet is combined with cowpea, it can provide the best weed suppression and increases the N fixation of cowpea; though, it may be too aggressive to be beneficial in most mixes. It is not suggested for aerial seeding and It has a C: N ratio of 4: 2 and can add 35 lb/acre N in above-ground biomass.

Climate Requirements for Barnyard Millet Farming

Adapted to temperature climatic and grows well in tropics also on soils having fragile ecology. Barnyard millet is tolerant to a very wide temperature range. Barnyard millet can be cultivated up to 2700 m above sea level and 200 to 400 mm annual rainfall. Barnyard millet created in     and is now a day it is grown all over , mainly in Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu.

Barnyard millet is an all-season crop and is grown mostly in the tropics. And are grown at an altitude between 1000 to 2000 m. Barnyard millet needs a well-distributed rainfall (i.e. annual rainfall 600 to 800m) in the growing season with an absence of prolonged droughts. The crop grows well, where the average maximum temperature exceeds 27°C and the average minimum temperature does not fall below 18°C. High humidity regions are not suitable for Barnyard millet cultivation. Barnyard millet is a short-day plant, a 12-hour photoperiod being optimum. Both temperatures in addition to photoperiod influence maturity.

Selection of Seed and Sowing Time forBarnyard Millet Farming

Generally, Barnyard millet is a short duration crop and can be grown all the year-round. So, the selection of a suitable variety/seed depends upon the season of sowing.

The rainfed early crop is sown in early May or in April. Kharif season’s main crop is sown in June or May. The rainfed crop must be sown by the end of August if the rains are not received within time. It helps full to avoid moisture stress at a critical stage of flowering. In areas, where irrigation facilities are insufficient, the sowing must be done after the onset of monsoon. In higher hills of North  the best time of sowing for the first fortnight of June.

Sowing Time

  • Rabi- September to October
  • Kharif- June to July                  

Method of Sowing – Line sowing and Broadcasting.

Spacing Between Plants in Barnyard Millet Farming

Minimum 25 cms distance between rows and 10 cm distance between plants within a row.

Seed rate: 8 to 10 kg per hectare for line sowing and 12 to 15 kg per hectare for broadcasting.

The Seed Rate and Seed Treatment in Barnyard Millet Farming

The quality of seed essential for sowing a hectare of Barnyard millet field based on the method of sowing i.e. by broadcasting, by transplanting, by seed drill or Kera. Nearly 4 to 5kg’s of Barnyard millet seeds are enough for raising nursery, whereas 8 to 10 kg seed will be needed for broadcasting one hectare of land. The seed must be treated with Thiram and Agrosan G.N. 2 to 3g/kg of seed as protection against seed born disease.

Nursery Raising and Transplanting in Barnyard Millet Farming

Mainly, Barnyard millet is grown by raising nurseries and transplanting the seedlings in the main field. Around 400 square meters of land is enough to raise nursery for one hectare of the main field. The nursery must be raised on a high-level piece of land with a good drainage system.

For transplanting, 20 to 25 days old seedlings are perfect for getting the best yields. A spacing of 15 x 10 cm and 20 x 10 cm are suggested for Rabi and Kharif crops, respectively. Transplanting delivers not only a uniform plant stand but also raises height, tiller number, and fingers/ear, which are directly related to higher production. Shallow planting in 5 cm depth supports better and quicker tillering. Transplanted crop does not lodge even in during rains.

Irrigation Requirement in Barnyard Millet Farming

The crop is commonly grownup under rainfed conditions since it does not do well on waterlogged soils. Around 50% of available soil moisture is found to be best for maximum yield. The number of irrigations varies based on the rainfall during the season. Rains of around 450 mm have to be supplemented by irrigation of 130 min water to raise a good crop. Based on the nature of the soil, irrigations are given whenever necessary. Suitable moisture is necessary at the flowering, tillering, and grain filling stage.

Weed Management in Barnyard Millet Farming

In Barnyard millet, the main importance is given to thinning and weeding operations when it is 2.5 to 5cm high. Weeds are mainly serious in broadcast crops. Single line sowing at a distance of 25 cm facilitates weeding. Coming to the sowing, the transplanting method is also the best method to control the weeds. Sometimes the wild Barnyard millet is a very serious weed. Since it cannot be distinguished from the cultivated varieties in the vegetative stage, it generally matures and sheds its seeds before the Barnyard millet is harvested. Suitable crop rotation can be efficiently used to control such types of weeds. The other types of weeds can be controlled by removing with a hand hoe after 25 days of sowing. 2 to 3 hoeing are enough to control the weeds in problem areas.

Pests and Diseases Management in Barnyard Millet Farming

The only serious pest for Barnyard millet  is said to be the hairy caterpillars (Amsacta albistriga). The other insects causing periodic damages are jassids beetles and grasshoppers. Beetles, caterpillars, and jassids can efficiently be controlled by spraying Monocrotophos 0.05% or Endosulphan (0.07%). Grasshoppers can be controlled by spraying/dusting Benzene hexachloride (BHC) 10% in the early stages of infection.


Shoot fly – Shoot fly is the most serious pest causing significant yield losses.

Control – Early sowing with the onset of monsoon is a cheapest and effective method of control.


The Barnyard millet is mainly affected by several diseases like leaf spot or blight, leaf blast, and smuts, etc.

The crop even though affected by 3 different smuts; the grain smut caused by Ustilago panicifrumentacei is important.

Control – Pre sowing treatment of the seeds with Carbendazim or Thiram at 2g per one kg of seed.

Head smut

Head smut disease in Barnyard millet is caused by Ustilago crusgalli.

Management – The disease is seed-borne and it can be easily controlled by seed treatment with Carbendazim or Thiram by 2 g/kg seed before sowing.

Kernel smut

Kernel smut is mainly caused by Ustilago paradoxa. The affected grains appear as greenish swollen bodies.

Management – The disease is seed-borne and it can be controlled by seed treatment with systemic fungicides.

Leaf Spot or Blight

The Leaf spot or blight disease appears as dark brown, and spindle-shaped spots on flag leaves. Then, several such spots coalesce and cover the entire leaf, which becomes grey and dried up. The disease is common under humid conditions.

Management of Leaf Spot or Blight – The infection comes from the seed-borne inoculum; seeds treatment with systemic fungicides before sowing helps in disease control. Spraying of copper fungicides at the rate of about 0.3% helps in reducing the disease intensity.

Leaf blast

It is caused by the fungal pathogen Magnaporthe grisea. The Leaf blast disease symptoms in form of a spindle to circular shaped spots and different sizes appear on the young seedlings in the field. In the beginning, the isolated spots have yellowish margins and greyish centres.

Management of Leaf Blast – For this disease seed treatment with Thiram, or Carbendazim at the rate of 2 grams/kg seed 24 hours before sowing is effective. Sowing early in the season, replacing 25% N with compost or FYM reduces the blast severity.

When and How to Harvest Barnyard Millet

Harvested Barnyard Millets.

The time of harvesting varies mainly based on the location in plains. The crop matures faster in plains compared to hills. Cultivated varieties vary in their susceptibility to shattering. So, 3 to 4 pickings are generally required to collect the ear heads from the field. When a mixture of varieties is grown, natural ripening is expected to be uneven, and hence more pickings are essential. Hand harvesting of ear-head generally requires more labour.

The crop of Barnyard millet must be harvested when it is ripe. With the help of sickles, it is cut from the ground level and stacked in the field for around a week before threshing is done by trampling under the feet of bullocks.

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