Annual grass (warm-season)
1 - 5 feet
DAYS TO MATURITY:
Plant 25 lbs per acre
Wild millet, which is also known as watergrass or barnyard grass, is a reseeding annual. It grows from 1 to 5 feet tall depending on soil conditions, moisture, and length of growing season. It can produce as much as 2500 lbs/acre. Most seed shatters from the seed heads by fall. The fall coolness doesn’t allow it to sprout until the following spring when it begins to warm. It either remains on the ground, in the water, or is consumed by birds rather than germinating. Therefore, it will volunteer year after year. It won’t germinate when under more than 1/4” of soil or 4” of water. As the water recedes, it will sprout both in the shallows and in the mud.
Wild millet is one of the best waterfowl attractors. It is the most important food raised on most state operated waterfowl management areas in California. It is also planted extensively by US Fish and Wildlife on most new projects in Western Oregon. Wild millet will mature on just a couple of irrigations in 60 to 80 days. In Western Oregon or Washington, the Midwest, East and South, even on only fair soil, it will mature with no irrigation. In the Willamette Valley of Oregon, we try to plant in the first 2 weeks of May. We have planted as late as July 15th and had the plants still make seed. We've also watched it continue to make seed even after we begin to flood the hunting ponds in September. Generally, if you have good moisture, the earlier you plant, the larger your seed crop. East of the Cascades or Sierras requires the same basic farming methods. Watch that you have a growing season that is long enough. 80 days is best.
Geese do not love wild millet, ducks do. Ducks do not enter the fields as readily when dry as when flooded, so seed harvested by them can be partly controlled by water manipulation. They will, however, feed out into the dry field from an open wet area. Ducks will usually concentrate on a flooded field of wild millet for a week or two and then desert it for another pond for a few weeks, only to return and rework the first one.
Wild Millet can be flood irrigated once it has grown a few inches. We start draining the pond as soon as it has been filled, which can take a few days. If you are planning on leaving your pond flooded, make sure the plants are well established. It can handle up to a foot of water. The plants will start to yellow if the water level is too deep.
Planting Instructions: Use general ground prep method (click here).
Drill 25 lbs of seed to the acre in 6” or 7” rows or spin spread 30 lbs of seed to the acre. If drilled, put in ground no deeper than ½” then roll with a sprocket roller or smooth roller. If spin spread, lightly harrow and then roll seedbed. Spread a mix of 100 lbs of 16-16-16 and 100 lbs of 46-0-0 fertilizer. Now irrigate if needed. The ”OK” way; It’s still best to kill the vegetation. Then disk the ground. Harrow if you can, if not, plant right into the disked ground. Then drag something over the field to break down clods.
TRY NOT TO PLANT TOO DEEP
IF SOME IS TOO DEEP IT’S OK, CONSIDER IT NEXT YEARS CROP
IF THERE IS ANY MOISTURE IN THE SOIL, YOU DON’T NEED TO IRRIGATE
IF YOU HAVE TOO MANY BROADLEAF WEEDS, YOU CAN CONTROL THEM BY SPRAYING 2/3 PT. 24D AMINE PER ACRE. MILLET PLANTS SHOULD BE 4’’ TO 5’’ BEFORE SPRAYING
PLANTS WILL GROW IN A FOOT OF WATER WHEN ESTABLISHED
IF PLANTS TURN YELLOWISH, WATER IS TOO DEEP
VERY DARK GREEN PLANTS OR CRACKED GROUND INDICATES THAT IRRIGATION IS NEEDED
If unable to work the ground, broadcast the seed on the mud as the water level drops. If unable to plant in the spring because of wet or inundated ground, you can plant in the late fall after the soil has cooled. After seeding, the area can be flooded for the winter. As the water recedes the next spring, the seed will sprout.
Note: This wild millet should not be confused with Japanese millet. It is similar and has the same botanical name but it acts differently. Unlike the Japanese millet, the wild millet will sprout in shallow water. When planted in dry ground, it can be irrigated by flooding the field and then drawing the water off. After the plants are 4-6 inches tall, wild millet can be flooded with 6-12 inches of water and will continue to grow. The wild millet reseeds year after year.
Running a disk or cultivator through the wild millet field in the spring of the second year is not necessary but will increase the chances of a larger volunteer crop. Wild millet should be planted just after the last chance of frost. In short growing season areas ( High Plains, etc.) you can gain a week or two if you can plant it in shallow water to protect it until the chance of frost is past.