PURPOSE BAJRA COMPOSITE VARIETY IS DUAL AS A GRAIN AND FOODER
earl millet locally known as bajra is a crop grown for fodder as well as grain. It can be grown as early summer and kharif season fodder crop and as a grain crop in kharif season. As a fodder, it is valued for quick growing habit and very hardy nature. It is easy to grow and require minimum inputs during its growth period. Unlike sorghum, there is no risk of poisoning with prussic acid (HCN) and it can be cut and fed before flowering. Punjab Composite Bajra 165 (PCB 165), newly developed dual purpose bajra composite can be grown as a fodder as well as a grain crop.
It has been developed by chain crossing of seven inbreds/populations having tall plant height, high biomass and good grain yield. It was released in Punjab State by the State Variety Approval Committee in Feb, 2020. Distinguishing characters: PCB 165 is a quick growing, tall, late maturing composite variety with more number of tillers. It’s average plant height of 252 cm. It gives fodder for longer duration as the 50% flowering comes after about 73 days of sowing. It possesses good fodder quality especially the crude protein. On an average, it gives 234 q/acre of green fodder and 86 q/acre of stover yield at maturity. As a grain crop it is matures late and takes 111 days to physiological maturity. It bears long cylindrical ears with average ear length of 31.3 cm and 11.5 cm ear girth. The grains are soft and slate coloured with good popping potential. Its grains are of good quality with high iron and zinc content. On an average, it gives 12.8 q/acre of grain yield. It is tolerant to all the major diseases of bajra.
Yield performance in comparison to checks:
The average green fodder yield of PCB 165 is 234 q/acre as compared to 214 q/acre of check variety FBC 16 in both adaptive and research trials with 9.3 % increase. The average grain yield of PCB 165 is 12.8 q/acre as compared to 11.0 q/acre of check PCB 164 with 16 % increase in both research and adaptive trials. PCB 165 is also superior to checks for dry matter yield.
The fodder quality of PCB 165 is superior for crude protein i.e. 7.5 % against checks FBC 16 (5.7 %) and PCB 164 (4.9 %). The in vitro dry matter digestibility (IvDMD) of PCB 165 is 61.2 % which is superior to FBC 16 (59.3 %) and PCB 164 (52.5 %). PCB 165 is also superior to PCB 164 for grain characteristics and is also superior in popping yield to PCB 164.
Time of sowing: As a fodder crop, it can be sown from March to till the end of August. As a grain crop in the areas of low rainfall sow the crop in early July. In other areas, sow it in the last week of July so that the crop
blossoms after the monsoon rains which washes off the pollen, inhibits fertilization and reduces the yield.
Seed Rate and method of Sowing: The seed rate of bajra is 6-8 kg/acre for fodder crop. It can be sown by broadcasting or in rainfed areas with pora in rows keeping row to row distance 22 cm. The seed rate for grain crop is 1.5 kg seed/ acre. Since the seed of bajra is small in size, so go for shallow sowing about 2.5 cm deep in rows 50 cm apart. Maintaining the plant population is very important, hence, thinning the seedlings to 15 cm apart after three weeks of sowing is very important to give proper space to every plant for profuse tillering and proper growth to get good yields. If the stand is poor, fill the patches by transplanting the uprooted seedlings.
Add 10 tonnes per acre of farmyard manure or compost before land preparation to the fodder crop. Apply 20 kg of N (44 kg urea) per acre in two doses, first half as the basal dose and the second half, 3 weeks after sowing when the crop height is 10-15 cm tall. To the grain crop, apply 40 kg of N (90 kg urea)/ acre and 24 kg of P (55 kg DAP/ 150 kg SSP) /acre under irrigated conditions and apply 1/2 N and whole of P with last ploughing. Apply the remaining N in two splits, one at thinning and one before ear formation. Under rainfed conditions, apply 25 kg of N (55 kg urea)/ acre and 12 kg of P (27 kg DAP/ 75 kg SSP) /acre. Apply 1/2 N and whole of P with last ploughing and remaining N about one month later after a shower of rain followed by hoeing so as to mix the fertilizer and also to create a soil mulch.
Irrigation and Drainage:
Two to three irrigations are usually sufficient during the growth period. However, in the hot season, frequent irrigations may be required. The number of irrigations depends upon the soil type, the frequency of rain and the availability of irrigation. The crop can tolerate restricted moisture conditions, but can’t tolerate water-logging so do not allow rain-water to stand for more than a few hours.
PCB 165 is tolerant to major diseases viz., downy mildew, ergot, smut and blast and insect pests, viz., grass hopper and pyrilla.
The crop is ready for first cut after 73 days of sowing i.e. soon after the flag-leaf emergence.. as a grain crop it matures in about 111 days.
The grains of PCB 165 variety have very good popping potential. About 90% of the grains pop which are crunchy and crispy in taste.
Since PCB 165 is a composite variety, seed of this variety can be produced by growing in an isolation plot having no bajra crop in a strip of about 200 metres on all sides or by harvesting from the centre of about one acre field leaving a strip of approximately 10 metres all around.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
The recommendations are made by RS Sohu, Ruchika Bhardwaj and Devinder Pal Singh, who belong to the forage and millet section of the department of Plant Breeding and Genetics; of Punjab agricultural university.