Drought Tolerant Pearl Millet

  • Pearl Millet is open-pollinated
  • Plant height ranges from 140 to 160cm
  • Have 1-6 erect synchronous maturing tillers and thickness of tillers ranges from 2.5–4.5cm
  • Its ear heads are compact and cylindrical (12-27cm long, 6-9cm thick) with a limited bear tip Flowers in approximately 45-55 days depending on altitude
  • Matures in 75-90 days
  • Seeds are obviating in shape, bold in colour and have a soft endosperm
  • Has mean grain yield potential of 2,400kg/ha or 960 kg/acre

Target Areas Of Production

The millet varieties grow well in agro-ecological zones IV and V. They also do well in the semi-arid areas that receive about 150mm of rain per season.  The varieties can be grown from 50m to 2000m above sea level.

Crop Management

Land preparation:

Millets require a fine seedbed. Ploughing can be done using a hoe, tractor or oxen. Fields with big soil clods should be harrowed. Planting fields should be prepared early. Land should be ploughed immediately after harvesting the previous crop.

Time of planting:

Spatial planting is recommended. Drill or plant in hills half the field before the rains and plant the other half at the onset of rains.

Method of planting:

When using oxen plough for planting, place the seed at the side of the furrow.

Seed rate:

Pearl millet – 5kg/ha or 2 kg/acre


Sole cropping: Distance between rows – 60cm  Distance between plants – 15cm

 Intercrop: Pearl millet: 120cm X 15cm and 1 row of grain legume be

Number of plants per hill:

At least 2

Depth of planting

All varieties should be planted at a depth of 2 inches (5cm).


Thin to one seedling per hill. This results in strong plants that produce the required yields.


The first weeding should be done within 2-3 weeks after emergence and the second 2-3 weeks thereafter.

Dryland Seed


All millets respond well to fertilizers. Apply 50kg per hectare of NPK (20:20:0) when necessary. Farmyard manure is recommended at 8-12 tons/ha.

Crop Protection

Insect pests include:

  • Bean fly – usually observed at seedling stage
  • Black ban aphid – common during cool dry periods
  • Bean leafhopper – found during vegetative stages
  • Bean weevil – common during storage
  • Pod borers


Harvest when dry.


Weevils are major storage pests.

The grain should be dried well before storage because grains that are not well dried are prone to weevil attack.

To store, use Hermatic bags or dust the grain with any recommended chemical grain dust or with neem tree leaves or treat with wood-ash (4-6 kg of ash per bag).