Introduction: Bajra is popularly known as “pearl millet and belongs to the family of Graminea. This grain is basically originated from India or Africa. Bajra is a coarse grain crop and considered to be the poor man’s stapes nourishment and suitable to cultivate in dry lands. Major Bajra production states in India are: Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, Bajra can be used as valuable animal fodder. It is one of the major crops of China, India, South Eastern Asia, Sudan, Pakistan, Arabia, Rusia & Nigeria.
Major bajra production states in India: – Top bajra producing state is Rajasthan followed by Maharashtra, Haryana, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. Top high yielding state is Tamil Nadu.
Health benefits of bajra or Pearl Millet: – Some of the health benefits of Bajra are given below:
- Bajra is very good source of energy.
- Bajra promotes heart health.
- Bajra helps in reducing weight.
- Bajra helps in digestion disorders.
- Bajra may help in preventing cancer.
- Bajra controls blood sugar levels and hence good for diabetic.
Local Names of Bajra in India: – Pearl Millet (English), Bajra (Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi), Sajje (Kannada), Kambu (Tamil), Kambam (Malayalam), Sajjalu (Telugu), Bajri (Tajasthani, Gujarati and Marathi).
Commercial-hybrid varieties of Bajra in India: – ICM4-155, VBH-4, NBH-149, MH-306, NH-338, MP-204, MP-205.
Agro climatic requirement for bajra cultivation: – Bajra grows well in dry and warm climatic conditions and its drought tolerant crop which requires low annual rainfall ranging between 40 cm to 60 cm. Ideal temperature for bajra cultivation is between 20ᵒ to 30ᵒ C. Moist weather is advantageous during its vegetative growth. In North India, bajra is grown as kharif crop and in some southern parts is grown as summer crop providing irrigation.
Soil requirement for bajra cultivation: -Bajra can be grown in wide range of soil. However, it thrives best in black cotton soils, sandy laom soils having well drainage. This crop does not prefer acidic and water logging soils. Avoid saturated soils for its cultivation. It grows successfully well in soils with low ph or high salinity. Bajra can be eaily grown in regions where other cereal crops like wheat or maize would not survive.
Land of field preparation in bajra cultivation: – 2 to 3 harrowing followed by a ploughing is required to make the soil in the field to the fine tilth. Any weeds should be destroyed during the field preparation to accommodate proper sowing and distribution of seed at appropriate depth.
Seed treatment in bajra cultivation: – The organo mercurial compound ceresin, Agrosan should be used @ 2-3 kg per hectare to control seed borne diseases.
Seed rate and spacing in bajra cultivation: – Seed rate and spacing in bajra cultivation as follows: –
- 3 to 3.5 kg/ha for dibbling method.
- 5 to 5 kg/ha for drilling method.
Row spacing of 40 cm to 45 cm should be maintained and within rows, 10 cm to 15 cm should be kept.
Sowing time in Bajra cultivation: – Ideal time for bajra sowing time is middle to last week of July month.
Weed control & Inter cultural operations in bajra cultivation: – Gap filling or Thinning is followed, Applying Atrazine @ 0.5 kg/ha works well to control weeds.
Manures and fertilizers in bajra cultivation: – Even bajra requires fewer nutrients, if you are cultivating commercial hybrid bajra, adding farm yard manure (FMY) or compost result in better yield and quality of seed. Apply these organic manures at the time of soil or land preparation so that soil will become fully decomposed by the time of sowing. 90-100 kg of N: 50-60 kg of P: 50-60 kg of K is recommended for hybrid variety.
Fertilizers should be applied in split doses. At the time of sowing, full phosphorus and potash half of nitrogen should be added as basal application. ¼ th nitrogen should be added after 30 and 60 days (after sowing).
Pests and diseases in bajra cultivation: – Grasshoppers and stem bores are major pests in bajra cultivation. These can be controlled by dusting the crop with BHC 5% or 2 spraying with 2 liters of Eldrin 20 c.c. Main disease in Bajra farming is “Downy mildew”, to control this disease, treat the seeds with fungicide like M-45 @ 2.0 kg/ha or Dithane Z-78 in 900-1000 liters of water.
Harvesting and threshing of bajra crop: – The crop is ready for harvesting when the grain become hardy & contain moisture. Two methods can be followed in harvesting bajra crop: cutting earhead or cutting of entire plants by sticks. Stalk the cut plants for 4 to 5 days in sun for drying grains. Grains can be separated by beating the earheads.
Yield of bajra: – Rain fed crop yields about 12 to 16 quintals/ha and irrigated crop yields about 25 to 35 quintals/ha.