Foxtail Millet

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Foxtail Millet


a Caucasian group of variants of Italian millet (Setaria italica), an annual plant of the family Gramineae. In the USSR they are grown in the Caucasus (mainly in Georgia) and also in the Ukraine and Moldavia. Foxtail millet is used to obtain groats and flour of high nutritive value and as fodder for cattle and birds.

Foxtail Millet


(Setaria italica, or Panicum italicum), an annual plant of the family Gramineae. The culms are 50–100 cm high, leafy, not particularly frutescent, and sometimes branching. The inflorescence, which is a spikelike panicle (tassel), is 20–25 cm long, 4 cm wide, and not lobed (in contrast to Setaria viridis). At the bases of the spikes there are threadlike bristles that give the tassel a shaggy look. The caryopses of foxtail millet, which are less shiny and smaller than those of common millet, are elongated and range in color from yellow to reddish. Varieties of foxtail millet are differentiated according to the color of the caryopses and spikes (white, yellow, orange, and red).

Foxtail millet is grown for forage and as a cereal grain. It is cultivated in countries with subtropical and temperate climates and grows wild in Asian countries. In the USSR it is cultivated for hay and green feed and as a pasture plant in the Ukraine, the Northern Caucasus, Moldavia, Kazakhstan, Western Siberia, and Middle Asia.

Forms of foxtail millet are divided into two ecological groups: one is characterized by early maturation, drought resistance, and bushiness, and the other by its greater height, coarse stem, and lesser degree of bushiness.

Foxtail millet is drought resistant and thermophilic. The seeds germinate at a temperature of 8°–10°C; the shoots are injured by frosts lower than −2°C. The plant grows well on friable, weedless soils; it does not tolerate marshy soils. In crop rotation, foxtail millet is planted in fields that have been cleared of weeds, because it grows slowly during the early stage of vegetation. The seeds are sown in warmed soil (10°–12°C); they are planted in close rows when they are cultivated for hay and green feed (rate of sowing 15–20 kg per hectare [ha]) and in rows spaced further apart when they are cultivated for seeds (8–10 kg/ha). After sowing, the soil is lightly packed.

Foxtail millet is harvested for hay at the beginning of tasseling, when the plant is rich in nutritive substances and is not coarse. The green mass and the hay are high in nutritive value: 100 kg of green mass contains 17 feed units, 1.8 kg of digestible protein, and 7 g of carotene; 100 kg of hay contains 55 feed units, 5.5 kg of digestible protein, and 2 g of carotene. The yield of green mass is 100–250 quintals/ha; the yield of hay is 25–65 quintals/ha. The seed is also good feed; it is eaten in ground form by all species of livestock, and in unground form by birds. The grain yield of foxtail millet reaches 20–25 centners/ha.

Foxtail millet is relatively resistant to insects; however, it is sometimes infested by the millet ground beetle. Diseases of the plant are smut and leaf curl, which can be controlled by seed treatment. The most common varieties of foxtail millet are Omsk 10, Temir 110, Dnepropetrovsk 11, Dnepropetrovsk 15, and Dnepropetrovsk 31.


Kormovye rasteniia senokosov i pastbishch SSSR, vol. 1. Edited by I. V. Larin. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.