Millet Basics and Selection

The various millet types are warm-season annuals. Millets prefer hot weather and excel in conditions too dry for other forages. They are most often used in the Plains where summer rainfall can be scarce or in the Midwest and South as an emergency crop during dry summer conditions.

The millet types most often used for forage – brown top, German, hybrid pearl, Siberian – are average forage quality, with the exception of pearl millet, which can be very high quality. A new type of hybrid pearl millet that has the BMR (brown midrib) trait provides exceptional forage quality. Allow plants to reach 30 inches before grazing or cutting. When grazing, remove animals when stubble is 4 to 6 inches tall and wait until regrowth reaches 18 inches before grazing again.

Millets can also be used as a cover crop to provide a crop rotation and ground cover. When used as a cover crop plant 50%-75% of the recommended seeding rates.

Millet does respond well to nitrogen. For multiple cuts or grazing cycles, a small application of nitrogen at planting and another after the first harvest can promote maximum growth. Smaller applications maximize use of the fertilizer and minimize nitrate poisoning threats. Seed ½-inch deep in well-drained soils.