Pearl millet has the largest seed heads and is the most widely grown type of millet for human food, having been grown in Africa and India since prehistoric times. Its deep root system makes it well adapted to drought conditions with low soil fertility and high temperatures. It also grows well in soils with high salinity or low pH.
It tolerates difficult growing conditions, allowing it to be grown where other common food crops such as corn or wheat would not survive. Pearl millet is the most drought resistant food grain available. Harvesting of seed heads can start as little as 40 days after flowering.
Plants reach 6 – 15 feet tall. Pearl millet needs very little fertilizer, making it very well suited to growing organically with a side-dressing of aged compost. The heads bloom from the top down and the seeds ripen the same way.
Millet must be hulled before it can be eaten. Fortunately, the hulls are easily removed by rubbing the grains between your hands.
It has a fast developing root system, growing extensive roots both laterally and downward to capture available nutrients and moisture. This makes it an excellent choice for an initial cover crop to open up new soils for gardening as well as building soil health.
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