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Barnyard millet: Rich source of protein with Nutritional and health benefits

Friday, August 7, 2020 / No Comments

 The Barnyard millets are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses , widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for both human food and fodder . The millets include species in several genera, mostly in the subfamily Panicoideae , of the grass family Poaceae .

 Millets are not only adapted to poor, droughty, and infertile soils, but they are also more reliable under these conditions than most other grain crops.

 Millets are major food sources in arid and semiarid regions of the world, and feature in the traditional cuisine of many others.

 Barnyard millet is another food crop domesticated in India and grown for both grain and fodder purposes.

 Small millets are highly nutritious and even superior to rice and wheat in certain constituents.

 Finger millet is the richest source of calcium (300-350 mg/100 gm grain) and other small millets are good source of phosphorous and iron too. The protein content range from 7-12% and fat content from 1.12 to 5.0 %.

 The millet protein has well balanced amino acid profile and good source of methionine, cystine and lycine. These essential amino acids are of special benefit to those who depend on plant food for their protein nourishment.

The millet grain contains about 65% carbohydrate, a high proportion of which is in the form of non starchy polysaccharides and dietary fibre which help in prevention of constipation, lowering of blood cholesterol and slow release of glucose to the blood stream during digestion.

Millet grains are also rich in important vitamins viz., Thiamine, riboflavin, folin and niacin. It is of interest to note that lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases, duodenal ulcer and hyperglycemia (diabetes) are reported among regular millet consumers.


Barnyard millet is the fastest growing millet and its origin is probably in eastern India.


Barnyard millet is an all season crop and is grown mainly in the tropics.

It is grown at an altitude between 1000 -2000 m.

It requires a well distributed rainfall (i.e. annual rainfall 600-800m) during growing season with an absence of prolonged droughts.

Crop grows well, where the average maximum temperature exceeds 27°C and the average minimum temperature does not fall below 180 centigrade.

Regions of high humidity are not suitable for its cultivation.

 It is a short day plant, a 12-hour photo period being optimum. Both temperature as well as photoperiod influence maturity.



The crop is grown on a variety of soils, but reasonably fertile and free draining sandy loam soils are preferred. Barnyard millet cannot tolerate water logging. It thrives best on red lateritic loams.


Selection of high yielding, short duration, disease resistant, drought tolerant and agro- climatic varieties of Barnyard millet is the important consideration for higher production.

In recent years a number of Barnyard millet varieties have been released.

Varieties cultivated in India

State                      :     Barnyard millet variety

Andhra Pradesh          :       VL 29, Co 1

Bihar                           :       RAU 2, RAU 3, RAU 9, VL 29, VL 181

Jarkhand                      :      RAU 2, RAU 3, RAU 9, VL 29

Gujarat                         :      VL 172

Karnataka                    :       VL 181, VL 172

Maharashtra                :       VL 29

Madhya Pradesh         :       VL 29, VL 172, VL 181

Chattisgarh                 :        VL 29, VL 172

Tamil Nadu                 :        Co 1, K 2, VL 181

Uttar Pradesh              :        Anurag, Chandan, VL 172

Uttaranchal                 :        VL 21, VL 29, VL 172

Package of practices of Barnyard millet

 Selection of seed

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

Time of sowing

The rainfed early crop is sown in April or early May. Kharif season main crop is sown during Mayor June. The rainfed crop should be sown by the end of August, if the rains are not received in time. It helps to avoid moisture stress at critical stage of flowering. In areas, where irrigation facilities are inadequate, the sowing should be done after the onset of monsoon. In higher hills of North India, the optimum time of sowing for the first fortnight of June.

Seed rate and seed treatment

The quality of seed required for sowing a hectare of Barnyard millet field depends upon the method of sowing ie by transplanting, by broadcasting or by seed drill or kera. About 4-5kg seed is sufficient for raising nursery, whereas 8-10 kg seed will be required for broadcasting one hectare of land. Seed should be treated with Agrosan G.N. or Thiram 2-3g/kg of seed as protection against seed born disease.

Nursery Raising

Barnyard millet is grown by raising nurseries and transplanting the seedlings in the main field. About 400 square meters of land is sufficient to raise nursery for one hectare of main field. Nursery should be raised on a high level piece of land with proper drainage.


For transplanting, 20-25 days old seedlings are ideal for getting optimum yields. A spacing of 20 x 10 cm and 15 x 10 cm are recommended for kharif and rabi crops, respectively. Transplanting provides not only uniform plant stand but also increases height, tiller number and fingers/ear, which are directly related to higher production. Shallow planting in 5 cm depth encourages quicker and better tillering. Transplanted crop does not lodge during rains.


Barnyard millet crop is generally grown under rainfed conditions, since it does not do well on waterlogged soils. About 50 per cent available soil moisture is found to be optimum for maximum yield. The number of irrigations varies depending upon the rainfall during the season. Rains of about 450 mm have to be supplemented by irrigation of 130 min water to raise a good crop. Depending upon the nature of soil, irrigations are given whenever necessary. Adequate moisture is necessary at tillering, flowering and grain filling stage.

Weed Control

Great importance is given to thinning and weeding operations when the Barnyard millet is 2.5-5cm high. Weeds are particularly serious in broadcast crops. Single line sowing 25 cm apart facilitates weeding. Transplanting method of sowing is also the best method to control the weeds. Sometimes the wild Barnyard millet is a serious weed. Since it cannot be distinguished from the cultivated varieties in the vegetative stage, it usually matures and sheds its seeds before the Barnyard millet is harvested. A suitable crop rotation can be effectively used to control such weeds. The other weeds can be removed with hand hoe after 25 days of sowing. Two to three hoeing are sufficient to control the weeds in problem areas.

Insect Pests

The only serious pest in India is said to be the hairy caterpillars (Amsacta albistriga). The other insects causing sporadic damages are jassids beetles and grass hoppers. Caterpillars, beetles and jassids can effectively be controlled by spraying Endosulphan (0.07%) or Monocrotophos 0.05%. Grasshoppers can be con- trolled by spraying / dusting BHC 10% in early stages of infection.


The time of harvesting varies depending on the location in plains. The crop matures faster in plains than in hills. Cultivated varieties vary in there susceptibility to shattering. Therefore, 3-4 pickings are usually 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 required. Hand harvesting of ear-head usually requires more labour. Mostly the crop is harvested with sickles and straw is cut close to the ground.


The harvested crop is stacked for about 2-3 months to dry completely, before threshing, which is done by beating with sticks or by treading with bullocks or by means of stone rollers or hammer mill.

Unfavorable Climatic Conditions

If a dry spell occurs after germination the young plants may be killed and resowing is necessary. Continuous spells of rain during growth period, accompanied by a temperature range of 25°C to 32°C causes infection of plant diseases. Heavy rain at flowering has adverse effect on grain-setting since open florets are more susceptible.

Flowering and Fruiting

Inflorescence has 4-6 dense sessile spikes, having 60-80 spikelets per spike, densely crowded, arranged alternatively on rachis in two overlapping rows along outer sides of spike and 6-12 hermaphrodite florets per spikelets. Flowering takes place over a period of 8-10 days, with the maximum number of florets opening on the spike and proceeds downwards. Flowers are normally self pollinated, sometimes cross pollination by wind up to 1 % has also been observed.  The caryopsis (fruit) of Barnyard millet is small rounded with 2mm diameter and usually dull red in colour with a black helium. It keeps well for several years provided that it is kept dry. About 400-500 seeds weigh one gram. The pericarp can be removed from the seed easily.


The grain is notably free from any serious pest damage in store and it keeps well for several years provided it is kept dry without deterioration or weevil damage. Consequently, it is an important famine food. Dry straw can also be stored for a sufficient long time and used as fodder.