In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Seasons and Tillage of Foxtailmillet 2. Seeding of Foxtailmillet 3. Nutrient Management 4. Cropping Systems 5. Water Management 6. Weed Management 7. Harvesting and Storage 8. Processing and Uses 9. Varieties.
Seasons and Tillage of Foxtailmillet:
Foxtailmillet is largely confined to monsoon as rainfed crop. It is grown as irrigated crop during summer months.
The crop seasons are:
Early kharif: May – August, especially in Karnataka
Kharif: June-July to October-November
Late kharif: August – September to November – December in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka
Summer irrigated: January – February to April – May or April to July after harvest of rabi crop under well irrigation
Since the seed is small, foxtailmillet receive thorough land preparat ion for adequate stand establishment. Light soils are given 2 to 3 ploughings followed by a couple of harrowings with blade harrows. Black soils are usually prepared by blade harrowing repeatedly until a fine seedbed is obtained.
Seeding of Foxtailmillet:
Foixtailmillet is sown by drilling or broadcast. When sown by drilling, the row spacing ranges from 22.5 to 30 cm to facilitate intercultivation. While drilling is common for dryland crop, broadcasting is the usual practice for irrigated crop since the crop is grown in a limited area (around 0.25 ha) under irrigation to meet domestic needs.
A seed rate of 5 kg ha-1 is optimum for drilling under dryland conditions, while 3 kg ha-1 is adequate for an irrigated crop. Foxtailmillet can be grown as transplanted crop as in the case of fingermillet and pearlmillet under irrigated conditions in intensive cropping systems.
Nutrient Management of Foxtailmillet:
Foxtailmillet under dryland conditions may not receive any fertiliser, except 5 to 10 t ha-1 of FYM or compact once in 3 to 4 years. Latest All India Small Millets Improvement Project results conclusively proved response of foxtailmillet to application of fertilisers.
Under dryland conditions, improved varieties respond to 40 kg N ha-1 on light soils, 60 kg N and 30 kg P2O5 on soil moisture retentive black cotton soils and to 80 kg N, 40 kg P2O5 and 40 kg K2O ha-1 on gardenland soils under irrigated conditions during summer season. Fertiliser schedule of 40 N (20 N basal and 20 N 30 DAS) and 20 P2Os kg ha-1 is recommended for rainfed foxtailmillet on black cotton soils of Andhra Pradesh.
Cropping Systems in Foxtailmillet:
Foxtailmillet is grown as sole crop, subsidiary crop mixed with fingermillet as in Karnataka or to a large extent as mixed or intercrop with cotton. When it is grown as a sole crop under dryland conditions, it is usually followed by sorghum, fingermillet or pearlmillet in the next year. Intercropping of foxtailmillet and cotton is usually followed by sorghum in the next year.
Results of experiments indicated yield advantage due to intercropping foxtailmillet with pigeonpea in 6:1 proportion. There is scope for a rainy season and postrainy season crop on black cotton soil. Results of experiments at Nandyal (AP) indicated that if foxtailmillet is sown during second or third week of June, it can be harvested by September.
Bengalgram or safflower can be grown as postrainy season crop on stored soil moisture. In Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, there is a practice of introducing sunflower crop in the standing crop of foxtailmillet. In the rainy season (July second fortnight), foxtailmillet is drilled with a row spacing of 30 cm. After every 6 or 8 rows, one row will be left for accommodating sunflower.
During the second fortnight of October when foxtailmillet is nearing harvest sunflower seed is sown in furrows behind the country plough in the space left after every 6 or 8 rows of foxtailmillet. Working heavy blade harrows will uproot stubbles in the interspaces between sunflower rows. Safflower can also be grown as a relay crop in foxtailmillet instead of sunflower.
Foxtailmillet as irrigated crop in gardenlands during summer is usually preceded by rice during both kharif and rabi or by rice in kharif and groundnut in rabi. Summer irrigated foxtailmillet can fit into many intensive cropping systems due to its shorter duration.
Water Management for Foxtailmillet:
Irrigated foxtailmillet accounts for less than one per cent of the total area under the crop, which is steadily decreasing in favour of sunflower, soybean and other remunerative crops. Establishment, panicle initiation and grain development stages are sensitive to soil moisture stress.
Scheduling irrigation at 50 per cent DASM or IW/CPE ratio of 0.75 at moisture sensitive stages and at 75 per cent DASM or IW/CPE ratio of 0.5 at other stages results in high water use efficiency. It is usually irrigated through check basin method of irrigation. Water requirement ranges from 400-500 mm.
Weed Management of Foxtailmillet:
Rainfed foxtailmillet is usually sown by drilling with adequate row spacing for using intercultivation implements. Two to three intercultivations followed by one hand weeding is adequate to minimise the losses due to weeds.
Critical period for crop-weed competition is 20 to 35 days after sowing (DAS). First intercultivation should be before 20 days after sowing and the second before 35 days after sowing. Herbicides are not, generally, used for weed control in foxtailmillet.
Harvesting and Storage of Foxtailmillet:
Improved varieties comes to harvest around 90 days after seeding. Year heads are removed from the stocks with hand since the peduncle is brittle. The plants (stover) will then be cut and dried for feeding the cattle. Harvested ear heads are sun dried for a day or two and threshed by trampling under the feet of farm animals, using the stone roller or beating with wooden sticks. Threshed is cleaned to remove the chaff and dried to 14 per cent moisture for safe storage. The grain is stored as in the case of fingermillet.
Grain yield of rainfed foxtailmillet ranges from about 800 kg ha-1 in light red soils to 1200 kg ha-1 in deep black cotton soils. Grain yield of summer irrigated foxtailmillet ranges from 1500 to 2000 kg ha-1. Straw yield of rainfed crop will be around 1500 kg ha-1 and that of irrigated crop about 2000 kg ha-1.
Processing and Uses of Foxtailmillet:
Dehusked grains are readily infested with insects. Hence, husked grains are stored and dehusked before processing. Dehusking is done with stone roller, rice milling machinery or by dehullers. In rural areas, dehusking is usually with mortar and pistil. The proportion of dehusked grain to raw whole grains is 70-80 per cent. Dehusked grain is cooked as rice or boiled with water to make porridge or gruel.
The unleavened cake is also made either by steaming or toasting. Crispy rolls are prepared with dehusked grain. Grain is first soaked in water, grounded and sugar added. The batter is toasted between two iron plates and formed into crispy rolls. Some of the sweet dishes prepared with foxtailmillet have superior taste and texture compared with those prepared with rice and wheat.
Varieties of Foxtailmillet:
Traditional long duration varieties have been completely replaced by improved short duration varieties maturing in 70-100 days.
Improved foxtailmillet varieties recommended for different states are given below:
AP: SIA 326, Chitra, Sri lakshmi, Narasimharaya, Krishnadevaraya.
Bihar: SIA 326.
Jarkhand: SIA 326, PS 4.
Karnataka: SIA 326, HMT 100-1.
Maharashtra: SIA 326. PS 4.
MP: SIA 326, PS 4.
Chattishgarh: SIA 326, PS 4.
TN: TNAU 186, TNAU43, SR 51, TNAU 196.
UP; Nischal, PS 4.
Uttaranchal: PRK 1.
Rajasthan: SR 51, SR 16.