In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Area and Production of Fingermillet 2. Growth and Development of Fingermillet 3. Varieties and Seasons 4. Method of Sowing 5. Spacing and Plant Population 6. Nutrient Management 7. Fingermillet Based Cropping Systems 8. Water Management 9. Weed Management 10. Harvesting and Storage 11. Quality Consideration 12. Package of Practices.
- Area and Production of Fingermillet
- Growth and Development of Fingermillet
- Varieties and Seasons of Fingermillet
- Method of Sowing for Fingermillet
- Spacing and Plant Population for Fingermillet
- Nutrient Management Required for Fingermillet
- Fingermillet Based Cropping Systems
- Water Management of Fingermillet
- Weed Management for Fingermillet
- Harvesting and Storage of Fingermillet
- Quality Consideration of Fingermillet
- Package of Practices for Fingermillet
1. Area and Production of Fingermillet:
On global basis, the area under fingermillet is around 3.0 M ha with a production of about 3.8 M t and productivity 1.3 t ha-1. Karnataka is the major state for fingermillet production in India. Most important districts in Karnataka include Bangalore, Kolar, Tumkur and Hassan.
In Tamil Nadu, it is extensively grown in Salem, Coimbatore, North Arcot, Ramanathapuram, Changalpat and South Arcot districts accounting for nearly 80 per cent of production. Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram, Chittoor, Anantapur and Nellore districts of Andhra Pradesh are well known for fingermillet cultivation.
It is also grown in other states including Gujarat, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir. As per the statistics, the area under fingermillet in India was 1.38 M ha with a production of 2.13 M t and the productivity 1552 kg ha-1.
Largest area under fingermillet (0.84 M ha) in India was in Karnataka followed by Uttarakhand (0.14 M ha). Production was highest (1.40 M t) in Karnataka followed by Uttarakhand (0.19 M t). Tamil Nadu ranks first in the yield (1887 kg ha-1) followed by Karnataka (1658 kg ha-1).
Fingermillet is unique amongst small millets in having relatively high average yield. It is not considered drought tolerant compared with sorghum, pearlmillet or other small millets. Minimal rainfall for successful cultivation is around 350 to 400 mm during the season and it can be grown up to rainfall of 1000 mm. It can be grown from sea level up to about 2500 m. However, it is more commonly found in elevations between 1,000 and 1,800 m.
Fingermillet is more frequently found on well drained, sandy to sandy loam, lateritic and laterite soils with reasonably good water holding capacity. While the crop can tolerate high rainfall, it must have a well-drained soil. Soil fertility can range from poor to good but higher yields are associated with fertile soils. It can come up even on alkaline soils with pH more than 10.
2. Growth and Development of Fingermillet:
Fingermillet seed can retain viability under lowland rice conditions for about four months. Germination after four months under lowland contains was around 85 per cent. Optimum temperature for germination is 24°C and the seed will not germinate if the temperature is around 48°C.
Soaking the seed in water for 24 hrs advances germination by about a day besides enhancing percentage of germination. Soaking the seed in 10 per cent cow urine for 24 hrs increased the seed yield by 20 per cent.
Fingermillet tillers profusely and branches develop at each node, especially at wide spacings or if the plant grow somewhat prostrate. A trampling down of the plant will show many branches at various stages of development on the same plant. This situation often leads to presence of a number of immature ear heads even at the time of harvest.
Older plants are more sensitive to photoperiod than young plants. Optimum photoperiod for flowering is 11.5 hrs. Complete emergence of inflorescence requires about 10 days and flowering extends over a period of one week. General tendency of flowers is to open and progress from top to the bottom in a finger.
In a spikelet, the order is reversed and proceeds from the bottom to the top and from the bigger to the smaller flower. Flowering will be at its maximum around 8 AM when the humidity is around 95 per cent. Flowering continues up to 10 AM. Direct seeded rainfed crop flowers in about 70 days after seeding while transplanted crop flowers in about 55 days after planting.
Fingermillet is a C4 plant and its grain and biomass yield is influenced by canopy photosynthesis. Fingermillet has a mean photosynthetic rate of 35 mg CO2 dm-2 hr-1. However, genotypes vary in photosynthetic rate. Harvest index ranges from 0.25 to 0.5, grain yield from 153-301 g m-2 and straw yield from 222 to 801 g m-2.
In fingermillet, ear photosynthesis contributes photosynthates for grain development. Under stress conditions, the reduction in photosynthetic rate of the ear is relatively low compared to that in leaves. Duration of fingermillet is affected by photoperiodic and thermoperiodic responses.
There is a linear relationship between crop duration and grain yield for several varieties. However, many of the high yielding varieties are photoinsensitive, allowing flexibility in dates of sowing and crop duration.
3. Varieties and Seasons of Fingermillet:
Improved varieties, which have been under cultivation before 1970 are:
Tamil Nadu: Co 1, Co 2, Co 7, Co 8, Co 9, K 1 and K 2.
Andhra Pradesh: AKP 1, AKP 2.
Karnataka: Poona, Kaveria, Hansa, Annapurna and Hagari 1.
Maharashtra: B 1, E 31 and A 16.
Allover India: Sarada, EC 4840, IE 28.
White grains: Co 9 and Hansa with around 12 per cent protein compared with about 10 per cent in many locals.
Systematic efforts under All India Coordinated Small Millets Improvement Project led to development of improved varieties having both general and specific adaptation. Major breakthrough was with recombination breeding involving hybridisation of indigenous and African germplasm.
This resulted in release of high yielding varieties having high level of resistance to blast. These include Indaf 5, Indaf 8, HR 911, GPU 28, GPU 26, GPU 45, Chilka, VL 146, VL 149, BM 9-1 and OEB 10. Recently a white grained variety OUTA 2 has been released for cultivation in Orissa. Table 7.2 may be referred for further information on varieties.
Fingermillet has a wide range of seasonal adaptation and can be grown at any time if moisture is adequate and temperatures are above a minimum level. Thus, it is grown not only as a dryland crop in rainy season but also very successful as an irrigated crop in dry season although south India. It is mostly grown during kharif under north Indian conditions.
As indicated already, fingermillet can be grown in south India throughout the year subjected to availability of irrigation water or rainfall as indicated below:
In general, the crop is largely confined to three seasons: kharif (June-July), rabi (September- October) and summer (January-February). In agency tract (Visakhapatnam and Vijayanagarm) of Andhra Pradesh, fingermillet is grown in three seasons: hot season (punasa) April—May, cold season (pyru) November-December and rainy season (peddapanta) August-September.
As seen from the above, it is clear that fingermillet can be grown although the year in south India provided soil moisture is not a limiting factor. Onset of monsoon determines the time of seeding rainy season crop. In irrigated intensive cropping systems, harvest of preceding crop determines planting time of fingermillet.
Long to medium duration varieties such as Indaf 8, HR 911, HR 919, AKP 7 etc. (110 to 125 day) are ideal for rainy season. However, short duration varieties can be grown when monsoon is delayed. Under irrigated conditions, short duration varieties, which can fit into a particular cropping system are preferred.
Land preparation for fingermillet depends on soil type. Normally, 3-4 ploughings with wooden plough followed by one or two harrowings before sowing is adequate. Studies at Dryland Agriculture and Millet Improvement Project, Bangalore indicated advantages of using mould-board plough soon after the harvest of previous crop.
Alternately, one or two ploughings to a depth of 15 cm in May- June followed by two harrowings with peg-tooth cultivator before sowing is more remunerative. This practice besides reducing the cost of tillage increased the grain yield up to 400 kg ha-1 over the traditional practice of three to four wooden plough ploughings.
4. Method of Sowing for Fingermillet:
The crop, under dryland conditions, is usually established by drilling or broadcasting. Under irrigated conditions, it is invariably transplanted. Studies carried out at Bangalore (Karnataka) indicated superiority of plough furrow sowing over drilling, transplanting and broadcasting under dryland conditions.
In plough furrow method, plough furrows are opened in advance of sowing in well prepared seedbed and the seed broadcast after the rain and brushed with harrow to cover the seed. Plough furrow method aids in soil moisture conservation besides enabling intercultivation with implements as in the case of drilling.
Depth of seeding should be in the range of 3 to 4 cm. Light seed drills are used for sowing the seed to facilitate optimum sowing depth. Transplanting under rainfed conditions results in low yield due to poor crop establishment.
Direct seeding is the common practice of crop establishment in normal rainy season. However, when sowings are delayed beyond August, establishing the crop by transplanting the seedlings can minimise the yield loss.
For transplantation under rainfed conditions, furrows are drawn in well prepared land lengthwise and breadth wise, chessboard fashion, by working a two or three tined marker (30 cm row spacing). At the intersection of furrows, one or two seedlings are planted after a soaking rain either from raised nursery or using thinned seedlings from direct seeded crop.
In high rainfall (> 1000 mm) areas, there is a practice of dropping the seedlings in furrows behind the country plough when the soil moisture content is around field capacity. Subsequent furrow covers the root system of seedlings. The seedlings get well established with subsequent rain.
Under irrigated conditions, there is a practice of clonal propagation or double transplanting. In this method, tillers from transplanted crop (20-25 days after planting) will be used for transplanting in another field. Clonal propagation results in greater number of tillers and higher yield than that of the crop raised from normal way. A short fingermillet crop can be taken in about 70 days between two crops in intensive cropping systems.
5. Spacing and Plant Population for Fingermillet:
Crop establishment by broadcasting with high seed rate of about 25 kg ha-1 followed by thinning the seedlings with cross-cultivation using tined hoes normally results in patchy plant stand resulting in low yields. Optimum plant population for fingermillet is 4,00,000 plants ha-1, which can be achieved with a spacing of 30 x 8 cm.
Results of experiments, however, proved that a seed rate of 5 kg ha-1 is optimum if the seed is sown with seed drills with a row spacing of 30 cm and maintaining 8-10 cm between plants in the row. Reduction in plant population in usually compensated by production of more tillers per plant within a reasonable limit.
For transplanting, nursery beds of 100-125 cm width and about 4 m long are prepared 3-5 weeks before transplanting. The ratio of nursery to main field area is usually 1:10 (1000 m2). Optimum seed rate is only 3 kg for transplanting one ha of main field.
The nursery beds are frequently heavily manured with FYM, compost or ashes (10 t ha-1) besides applying 25 kg N and 20 kg P2O5 ha-1 through fertilisers. The seeds are sown shallow (2 cm) and usually covered with a thin layer of FYM or compost immediately after irrigating the nursery beds. For short and medium duration varieties, 20-30 days old seedlings are ideal for transplantation. Long duration varieties can be retained in the nursery up to 35 days.
6. Nutrient Management Required for Fingermillet:
Dry matter production increases continuously up to harvest and its maximum production is between milk and dough stage of grain. Nitrogen accumulation is almost uniform up to dough stage, after which its demand decreases rapidly. Phosphorus accumulation is maximum between pre-flowering and milk stages. Potassium accumulation is uniform from seedling to dough stage.
At all the stages of crop growth, the proportion of potassium accumulation is greater in the stem than in other plant parts. The amounts of nutrients removed by fingermillet yielding 8 t ha-1 of dry matter were 152 kg N, 58 kg P2O5 and 155 kg K2O.
Fingermillet responds to fertiliser application. Among the major nutrients, response to nitrogen is very marked. On an average, response varied from 6 to 23 kg grain kg-1 N applied. Further studies at several locations have indicated that the response to nitrogen was of the order of 32 kg grain kg-1 N up to a moderate dose of 40 kg N ha-1 and 15.5 kg grain kg-1 N at 60 kg N ha-1.
Response to phosphorus application has been moderate with 16.3 and 14.7 kg grain kg-1 of P2O5 at 30 and 60 kg P2O5 ha-1 respectively. On the other hand, response to potassium was lower and ranged between 6 and 9 kg grain kg-1 K2O up to 60 kg K2O ha-1.
Fertiliser recommendation varies from place to place. General recommendation based on several experimental results at different location is 40 N, 20 P2O5 and 20 K2O kg ha-1 for rainfed fingermillet and 100 N, 50 P2O5 and 50 K2O kg ha-1 for irrigated crop. Recommended fertiliser schedule for fingermillet in different states is given in Table 7.3.
All the recommended phosphorus and potassium must be applied as basal dose at sowing. However, nitrogen should be applied in two equal splits at planting and six weeks after planting or four weeks after transplanting.
Seed-cum-fertiliser drills are used for simultaneous placement of seed and fertiliser. This practice usually results in 20-30 per cent increase in grain yield at the same level of fertiliser application. Studies on supplementing nitrogen and the form of organic manures (FYM, poultry manure, compost, green manuring) revealed that application of 50 per cent nitrogen in the form of organics resulted in higher yields than application of recommended nitrogen through fertilisers.
Use of biofertilisers can minimise the fertiliser needs considerably. Biofertilisers such as Azospirillum, Aspergillus and Azotobacter as seed treatment has significant effect in increasing the grain yield. This increase in yield due to biofertiliser amounted to an effect equivalent to application of 20 per cent of recommended dose of nitrogen.
7. Fingermillet Based Cropping Systems:
In some of the fingermillet growing regions, it is grown year after year without any crop rotation. It may be followed by a fallow or mixed with other crops in the same season. In most situations, however, it is rotated with sorghum, millets, cotton and tobacco as in Karnataka.
In other parts of India, the dry crop is sometimes rotated with groundnut, cotton, sorghum or millets. In the better-fertilised areas with supplementary irrigation, fingermillet is grown either before or after crops of gingely, onion, sweet potato, chillies, tobacco, wheat, gram or cotton.
In rice growing areas, it may follow rice or be sown in seasons when water availability is limited as a replacement for rice crop. In hilly parts of Western Ghats, fingermillet is grown under kumri system in which land is cleared of vegetation, the material spread on land surface and burnt.
Intercropping with other crops is also common. It is frequently grown in association with sorghum, pigeonpea, cotton or gram. Proportion of component crops in intercropping depends on the smothering effect of the crops. Results of experiments at Bangalore (Karnataka) have shown that fingermillet and soybean drilled in alternate rows 22.5 cm apart did not depress the fingermillet yield (2.5 t ha-1) with a bonus yield (200 kg ha-1) of soybean.
Staggered planting of pigeonpea 3.3 m apart in May followed by planting figermillet in July in the interspaces between two paired rows of pigeonpea is recommended in place of traditional practice of simultaneous sowing of the two crops for improving the yield advantage. To minimise the weed problem in the interspaces, cowpea can be planted and ploughed back as green manure after 45-50 days of vegetative growth.
Under irrigated conditions, fingermillet is grown as a transplanted sole crop. At Bangalore, fingermillet in rainy season, onion in postrainy season and fingermillet in summer is highly remunerative system followed by fingermillet-carrot-maize. Fingermillet—potato-maize is another remunerative system. In Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, the usual cropping systems are rice-rice-fingermillet or rice-groundnut-fingermillet, especially under well irrigation.
8. Water Management of Fingermillet:
Earliest records of experiments on transpiration rates in field crops are reported by Leather (1911). He showed that fingermillet is the most efficient of the six species studied in terms of dry matter per unit of water used. Fingermillet required 250 units of water for each unit of dry matter as against 300, 330 and 400 units for kodomillet, maize and sorghum, respectively.
Average production of grain (kg ha-1 mm-1 water) is maximum (13.7) for fingermillet followed by wheat (12.6), sorghum (9.0), maize (9.2), pearlmillet (8.0) and rice (3.7) indicating efficiency of fingermillet in utilising the water.
Fingermillet is predominantly a rainfed crop during monsoon period. Its water requirements vary from 400-650 mm depending on the soil and climatic conditions. Higher yields under rainfed conditions can be realised with 2 or 3 protective irrigations at tillering, panicle initiation and grain development stages, the critical stages for soil moisture stress, if rains are not received at these critical stages. Irrigated fingermillet during summer require about 10 irrigations on light soils and 8 on heavy soils.
Irrigations can be scheduled at 50 per cent DASM during critical stages and at 75 per cent DASM during other stages. If irrigations are scheduled based on IW/CPE ratio, optimum ratios for scheduling irrigations are 0.75 at critical stages and 0.5 at other stages. Fingermillet is commonly irrigated by check basin method of irrigation.
9. Weed Management for Fingermillet:
Intercultivation with tined implements removes considerable weed infestation. Two to three such intercultivations coupled with hand weeding, generally, suffice to keep the weed population under threshold under rainfed situations. Weed problem is greater in drilled or broadcast crop under dryland conditions than transplanted irrigated crop. The critical stage for crop weed competition is between 20 and 35 days after sowing.
In rainfed crop, first weeding should be completed within 3 or 4 weeks of seeding. Both transplanted and direct seeded crops need two or three intercultivations and one hand weeding. Even when herbicides are used for weed control, intercultivation is necessary to provide favourable environment in root zone.
PRE application of Nitrofen (0.5-1.0) has been recommended for sole fingermillet crop. Pendimethalin (0.75-1.5) as PRE application can give good control of a wide spectrum of weeds. POST application of 2, 4-D Ethyl Ester (1.0-1.5) is effective against broadleaf weed.
10. Harvesting and Storage of Fingermillet:
In general, ear heads of different tillers do not mature uniformly with many varieties. As such, the mature ear heads are harvested in 2 or 3 pickings to avoid shattering and bird damage. The harvested ear heads are sun dried for 2-3 days and threshed using conventional beating with sticks or treading under the feet of cattle. Use of stone rollers is also common for threshing the dried ear heads. Mechanical threshing is gaining importance in Karnataka state.
Fingermillet gram possesses excellent storability. The grains are highly resistant to both stored insect pests and fungi. Grain is stored in large containers above ground or in underground pits. The containers are constructed with straw or sticks woven together and plastered with mud mixed with cow dung or the grain may be stored in large baked clay pots, bricks, concrete or sheet metal silos. There is increasing tendency to keep the grain in gunny bags in storage room or buildings.
Underground pits, called hagevu in Karnataka are pot or bottle shaped excavations of varying sizes with a narrow top. The sides and bottom are firmly packed or rammed and lined with straw to prevent moisture from soaking the grain.
Top opening is covered with a stone slab and packed to assure a tight seal. The capacity of such pits can range up to 10 t for long term storage. It has been reported that the fingermillet grain can be successfully stored up to 50 years in southern India.
11. Quality Considerations of Fingermillet:
Fingermillet grain is moderately low in fat (1.3%) and crude protein (6-8%), very high in calcium (8.3%) and potassium (0.41%) and moderately high in phosphorus (0.28%), iron (0.017%) and thiamine (0.42 mg 100-1 g). Its carbohydrate content ranges from 70 to 76 per cent with a calorific value of 345 calories 100-1 g.
Generally, fingermillet can be considered to have a well-balanced protein for a cereal grain. Of the four essential amino acids, the proportion of lysine is 2.86 per cent, tryptophane 1.39 per cent, methionine 2.86 per cent and threonine 3.06 per cent. There is some evidence that patients with Diabetes mellitus tolerate fingermillet better than rice and that their blood and urine sugar levels tend to be lower.
12. Package of Practices for Fingermillet:
1. Relatively deep ploughing (about 15 cm) with summer rains (May) aids in managing perennial weeds besides conserving soil moisture for rainfed crops.
2. For light soils, three to four ploughings followed by harrowing before sowing is adequate.
3. Frequent harrowing commencing with onset of monsoon appears adequate for deep black soils.
Varieties for AP:
1. Late kharif (July – Nov): Godavari, Ratnagiri, Bharati, Sri chaitanya.
2. Rabi (October – February): Godavari, Ratnagiri, Saptagiri.
3. Late rabi (Nov – March): Saptagiri, Maruthi, Bharati.
4. Summer (January – May): Godavari, Ratnagiri, Gautami, Champavali, Sri chaitanya.
Seeds and Seeding/Planting:
1. Kharif rainfed crop (July to November) is largely drilled in lines with a row spacing of 30 cm and thinned to a spacing of 8 to 10 cm between plants within a month. Broadcasting with high seed rate is also common in certain areas. Seeding depth is 3 to 4 cm.
2. Optimum seed rate for row drilling is 5 kg ha-1 and for broadcasting 20 to 25 kg.
3. Rabi (Oct to March) and summer irrigated (January to May) crops are transplanted crops by raising nurseries about a month in advance. Ratio of nursery area to main field area is 1: 10 (1000 m2) with a seed rate of 3 kg ha-1.
4. Around 21 to 30 days seedlings are transplanted with a spacing of 30 x 8-10 cm using 2 seedlings per hill.
1. Recommended rates of fertiliser doses vary from state to state. General recommendation is 40 N, 20 P2 O5 and 20 K2 O kg ha-1, in addition to 10 t ha-1 of FYM for rainfed crop and 100 N, 50 P2 O5 and 50 K2 O kg ha-1 for rabi and summer irrigated crops.
2. Entire recommended dose of P and K and half of N should be applied at sowing by placement/drilling for rainfed crop. For irrigated crop, they can be applied by broadcast at last ploughing and incorporated into the soil.
3. The remaining half of the N should be applied around six weeks after seeding, depending in soil moisture availability, for rainfed crop and around a month after planting for an irrigated crop by placement.
4. Zinc sulphate at 25 kg ha-1 appears necessary for intensive cropping systems involving fingermillet.
1. Tillering, PI and grain development stages of growth are critical stages for irrigation.
2. On an average, a crop on light soils requires 10 irrigations and that on heavy soils 8 for optimum yield.
3. If irrigation water is a limiting factor, irrigations may be restricted to critical stages for near optimum yield.
1. Critical stage for weed competition is 20-35 DAS.
2. Two timely intercultivations are economical and adequate for a rainfed crop. Two manual weedings appears to be adequate for an irrigated crop.
3. PRE Nitrofen (0.5 to 1.0 kg) or Pendimethalin (0.75 to 1.0 kg) followed by POST 2, 4-D ethyl ester (1.0 to 1.5 kg) can effectively control the weeds.
4. Integrated weed management involving intercultivation, manual weeding and herbicides use would be very effective.