MILLET (Pennisetum glaucum)
Millet is a staple food of millions of people in Nigeria especially in the Sudan-sahelian region;
It is highly drought tolerant and gives reasonable yields on infertile sandy soils which would be unsuitable for other important cereals.
Millet has only local importance and is consumed after processing into flour to make local dishes such as Burabusko, Tuwo, Kunu, Koko or pounded to make Fura and are also widely used in beer making.
The straw may be fed to livestock or used for bedding and fuel.
- Because it is not a high value crop, millet is predominantly grown as a rain-fed crop.
- Millet is known to be tolerant of the harsh environmental conditions of northern Nigeria. Thus, it gives reasonable yields in areas with rainfall of about 220mm-800 per annum.
- Select soils that are fertile and well-aerated preferably the light loams. It does not tolerate water logging or heavy soils.
- Avoid the practice of monoculture by rotating with crops like legumes.
- Select a site with little or no Striga.
- Like all other cereals, millet needs well-prepared land (tillage), and sowing is done either on ridges or flats. If sown on ridges the ridges should be made on the furrows and old ridges should be replaced by new ones.
- However, tillage which is the working of the surface soil for bringing about conditions favorable for raising crop plants may not be necessary in many of the traditional millet growing areas where soils are loose and sandy.
- Tillage operations require power that may come from manual, animal, mechanical and other sources, as well as tools, implements, and equipment as aids to disturb and disrupt the normal state of the soil to a desirable extent.
- Note that tillage is a laborious and expensive cultural practice.
Improved Varieties of Millet
Examples of improved millet varieties include;
- SOSAT-C88 (LCIC-MV-1).
- Supa Sosat, Ex-Borno (SAMMIL-1).
- Maiwa Composite (SAMMIL-4).
- LCRI-IC 9702.
Planting date, time and methods
- Clean viable seed is necessary for good germination and good establishment.
- Before sowing, do a simple germination test to check the quality of your seed. The result will help you decide whether you need to increase your seeding rates or obtain new seeds (when the germination percentage is too low).
- The seeds should be treated with appropriate seed dressing chemicals.
- Pour half the quantity of seeds in a gourd, pour the chemical on the seeds in the gourd, then pour the rest of the seeds into the gourd, cover the gourd and mix thoroughly. Ensure that the chemical completely coats the seeds.
- Use any other container where gourds are not available but ensure that both are properly kept or disposed.
- Keep treated seeds out of reach of human beings and livestock.
- Wash your hands and clothes properly after treating the seeds.
- Sowing should be done when rain is fully established.
- The recommended spacing is 75cm x 25cm or 90cm x 20cm inter- and intra-row spacing, respectively using a seed rate of 3-5 kg/hectare and thinned to 2 plants per stand at 2-3 weeks after sowing (WAS).
- The optimum depth of sowing in light, medium and heavy soils should be 3-4cm, 2-3.5cm and 1.5-2cm, respectively.
- It is important to return crop residues of the previous year into the soil where millet is to be planted.
- It is also important to grow millet in rotation with legume crops to provide natural soil enrichment.
- Millet requires relatively less water compare to maize and rice.
- It requires and annual rainfall of 500-600mm.
- Integrated soil fertility management.
- Recommended fertilizer rate per hectare is 60 kg N, 30 kg P205 and 30 kg K2O per hectare is recommended for optimum yield.
- The fertilizer may be applied in one dose or split into two when soils are very sandy.
- Apply your fertilizer on moist but NOT wet soil.
- Do not apply when you anticipate rain as this may likely leach away your costly fertilizer.
- In many of the millet growing areas, weed population is not very intense; as a result, 2 hoe-weeding (2-3 and 5-6 WAS) should eliminate weed competition.
- However, herbicides such as Atrazine + Terbuthylazine @ 1.5-2.0 kg a.i/ha pre-emergence (3/4-1*MTMin 10 litre-Knapsack sprayer) can give very effective weed control.
- *MTM = Milk Tin Measure = 170 ml capacity.
Safety use and handling of pesticides
Precautions must be followed to ensure safe use of pesticides.
- Even after use, the empty containers must be disposed very well by burying them.
- Instructions as stated on the label of the pesticide must be followed while only trained personnel should apply pesticide at recommended rate.
- The personnel should also wear protective clothing during application of pesticide.
Crop maturity, harvesting and Storage
The crop is harvested by cutting off the head when the grain is fully ripe. The ears are threshed by beating with sticks.