How to plant pearl millet

Pennisetum glaucum

Pearl millet, a cereal known in Mozambique as millet and in Angola as massango, is a plant grown in Africa for more than four thousand years, and was soon taken to India, where it has also been grown for thousands of years. Currently, pearl millet is the most cultivated species of millet in the world. Something similar to sorghum, this plant can grow from 50 cm to 4 meters in height, producing cylindrical ears at the ends of the stems, each containing a certain number of small seeds that are nutritious and can be used in human or bird food and other animals. Cultivars with purple leaves and ears are also grown as ornamental plants in gardens.


Pearl millet can be grown in warm climates all year round, and in mild climates it can be grown in the hottest months of the year. The minimum temperature for planting should be 18 ° C, and can grow well in a semi-arid climate and at temperatures above 30 ° C.


This plant needs high light and must receive direct sunlight for at least a few hours daily.


The soil should preferably be well drained, deep, fertile and rich in organic matter, although this millet can grow relatively well in poor soils. This plant is also quite tolerant in terms of soil pH, and can be grown even in acidic or saline soils that would be unsuitable for corn and sorghum.


Although it produces better without water, this millet is more resistant to periods of drought than other cereals.


The seeds are usually sown directly at the final location, at a depth that can vary between 1 cm and 2.5 cm. The spacing between the plants can vary a lot depending on the cultivar and the soil fertility, and a spacing between the planting lines can be used that varies from as little as 20 cm for smaller cultivars and fertile soils, to 1 meter between the rows. planting for larger cultivars and poorer soils.


Control invasive plants that may compete for nutrients and resources, especially at the beginning of planting, when this millet grows relatively slowly.


Harvesting can be done when the ears are dry. Under ideal planting conditions, this occurs about 3 or 4 months after sowing (but in some cultivars it can take 6 months or more). Although the seeds do not normally come off the ears, storms at harvest time can cause great losses. Losses can also occur due to birds, mainly in small plantations or in plantations close to woods and forests.

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