By Michael Boland, Kansas State University.
Revised by Mykel Taylor, Assistant Professor, Kansas State University, June 2012.
Millet is a general term used to categorize a wide range of small-seeded cereals. Proso millet is a warm-season grass capable of producing seed usually anywhere from 60 to 100 days after planting. Because of its relatively short growing season, it has a low moisture requirement and is capable of producing food or feed where other grain crops would fail. Historically, prices have been higher than corn or sorghum, although prices can vary dramatically from season to season.
Proso millet, which is also called millet, hog millet and yellow hog, can be used in several ways. Proso millet grain can be used for human consumption and livestock feed. It is also commonly used in the United States for bird seed. Millet is desirable for human food because it is easily digestible and gluten-free. It can be ground into flour, used to bake flatbreads, used to make tabbouleh or for brewing beer. The feed value of proso millet for cattle and swine is generally considered equal to grain sorghum or milo (and corn when less than 50 percent of the ration’s corn is replaced).
Proso grain should be processed to crack the hard seed coat, allowing for better livestock digestion. For swine and poultry, proso millet, like most other cereal grains, should be supplemented with lysine. The grain is cleaned and further processed and used for bird seed, and some proso undergoes a dehulling process to supply both human and animal needs.
Most of the U.S. proso millet crop is produced in Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota, with Colorado producing 68 percent of the 2011 crop. Total U.S. production in 2011 was 9.1 million bushels from a harvested area of 338,000 acres. The average yield in 2011 was 27 bushels per acre. The total value of proso millet production was $53.7 million. The marketing year average price in 2011 was $5.87 per bushel, up from $4.21 per bushel the previous year.
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, the number of U.S. farms harvesting proso millet totaled 1,528 in 2007, an increase of 278 farms since 2002. Likewise, the number of acres planted to millet and the volume of proso millet produced have both grown in the last five years.
Proso millet is often planted as an emergency cash crop for situations where other crops have failed, been hailed out or were never planted due to unfavorable conditions. Proso millet may also be beneficial in a crop rotation. In a rotation, it has the advantage of enhancing weed control, especially with winter annual grasses in winter wheat. Proso is versatile in that it can be successfully grown on many soil types and is probably better adapted than most crops to “poor” land, such as land with soils having low water holding capacity and low fertility.
The seeds do not mature uniformly and shattering of early ripening seeds is a common problem. Because of this, proso millet is usually mowed (swathed) and cured in a windrow prior to combining.
Nearly all proso millet grown in major production areas is white seeded. Red-seeded proso has some demand but is best grown with a contract or specific market identified. Millet for birdseed purposes also is often grown under contract.
- Colorado and U.S. Millet Industry, Colorado Department of Agriculture, 2011.
- Crop Production Summary, National Ag Statistics Service (NASS), USDA.
- Crop Values Annual Summary, NASS, USDA.
- Foxtail and Proso Millet, Progress in New Crops, 1996.
- Millet, Northern Grain Growers Association, 2011.
- Millet (Proso), National Statistics, NASS, USDA.
- Millets, Alternative Field Crops Manual, Purdue University.
- Proso Millet, Alberta Agriculture and Food, Canada, 2007.
- Proso Millet, Field Crops: 2007 and 2002, 2007 Census of Agriculture - State Data, NASS, USDA.
- Proso Millet in Colorado, USDA Regional IPM Centers Information System, 2009.
- Proso Millet in North Dakota, North Dakota State University Extension Service, 2007.
Links checked June 2012.