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Irrigation in Pearl millet


Irrigation in Pearl millet

Pearl millet is mainly grown under rainfed situation. Only about 8% of pearl millet area is irrigated in India.

Pearl millet crop is exposed to drought conditions very often during its growth and consequently the yields are lower than the potential yield. So, if the farmers want higher pearl millet yields even during the rainy season, the answer is irrigation, if water is available.

How irrigation helps pearl millet crop?

  • Allows efficient use of inputs
  • Increases yield
  • Improves quality of grain
  • Improves reliability and reduces risk
  • Increases profitability

Adequate soil moisture at sowing helps assure uniform stands and contributes to early plant growth. Pre-plant irrigation can supply this moisture when early rains do not fill the root zone prior to planting. Allowing seed to remain in dry soil for several days may result in poor germination and seedling vigour. So, irrigation prior to sowing is recommended if water is available.

Whether irrigating before or after planting, apply no more water than required to fill the effective root zone.

Encourage deep rooting by maintaining only moderate soil moisture levels during early vegetative growth.Moderate plant moisture stress during early vegetative growth normally does not significantly limit grain yield. Little is known about pearl millet response to irrigation during growth. It appears that pearl millet responds less to irrigation than other grain crops. Greatest water use occurs during the bloom and soft dough stages.

Irrigation intervals and the amount of water to apply is determined by:

  • rainfall
  • soil's water-holding characteristics
  • plant rooting depth and
  • other climatic conditions like air temperature etc.

The visible signs for irrigating the crop or the moisture requirement of crop are:

  • drooping and withering of leaves during morning period,
  • leaves feel some what warm during noon instead of cool, and
  • cracking of the soil surface of the field.

Plan irrigations to provide adequate soil moisture during these high water requirement periods.

Drought Contingency Plan For Rainy Season Crop  

To conserve in situ rainwater deep plough the field during summer on heavy soils of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and eastern-Rajasthan.A wider row spacing of 60 cm is advocated where rainfall is less than 400 mm.Drought Contingency Plan For Rainy Season Crop Adopt suitable intercropping system.  Select early maturing hybrids/ composites of pearl millet under late onset of monsoon. (Please review for suitable cultivars for drought situation in Module 8) Keep the crop weed-free by timely weeding.

Drought Contingency Plan For Rainy Season Crop

If dry spell occurs immediately after sowing, replant pearl millet in between the existing rows or relay cropping may be practiced including short duration oilseeds/pulse crops Under normal onset of monsoon and occurrence of prolonged dry spell during grand growth period of the crop, reduce plant population to the extent of 25 to 40%. Drought Contingency Plan For rainy season   If drought prevails for 2-3 weeks during pre-flowering to grain setting stage, one life saving irrigation may be given if water is available.


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