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Thursday, January 27, 2000

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Two promising varieties of millets


By Our Agriculture Correspondent

THE UNIVERSITY of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad, Karnataka, has released two improved varieties of millets recently.

A high yielding variety of little millet (Panicum miliare) is released as ``TNAU 63'', and an improved variety of barnyard millet (Echinochloa frumentacea) is released under the name ``RAU 11'' barnyard millet, according to Prof. M. Mahadevappa, Vice Chancellor, UAS, Dharwad.

Both have been developed by scientists at the Agricultural Research Station at Hanumanamatti in Karnanataka. They are of erect type with green pigmentation.

They have been extensively field tested over the last five years, and their performance have been found to be superior to the existing varieties.The little millet ``TNAU 63'' is a pureline selection, and it has high grain and fodder yields.

This drought-tolerant variety has a duration of 85 days, and it is free from any pest or disease.

It has recorded a grain yield of 2-2.2 tonnes per hectare, and a fodder output of 6-6.5 tonnes a hectare, according to Dr. G. Shanthakumar, Assistant Professor (Genetics and Plant Breeding), ARS, Hanumanamatti.

The barnyard millet ``RAU 11'' is also a pureline selection. This drought-resistant variety has registered a grain yield of 2.8 -3.0 tonnes per hectare, and its fodder output is put at 6 to 7 tonnes per hectare.

It has a duration of 95 days, and it has been found to be free of all major pests. It is resistant to brown ear and downy mildew diseases.

Both the varieties are suitable for early sowing by the first week of June to end of June. They can be inter cropped with redgram and sesamum.

A spacing of 22.5 cm 5.0 cm is recommended, and a seed rate of 8 kg will be needed to cover a hectare. The non-lodging varieties respond well to a nutrient dose of 40 kg nitrogen and 20 kg phosphorus per hectare.

The entire quantity of phosphatic nutrient and half the quantity of nitrogen should be applied basally, and the remaining nitrogen should be given as top dressing when the crop is 30 days old.

Both these small millets have wide adaptation, short-duration and are easy to cultivate. These drought-tolerant crops need low cost inputs, and they perform well in low rainfall regions with impoverished soils.

They can ensure low but stable yields even in depleted lands. The nutritional quality of these millets is far superior to major cereals. They are rich in carbohydrates, dietary fibres, high quality protein, vitamins and minerals.

The millets offer excellent forage for the livestock population in such fragile ecosystems. However, their yields have remained stagnant around 450 kg per hectare during the last three decades and the release of the new varieties will break this barrier, and ensure nutrient and livelihood security to the small and marginal farming families in the region.

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