PEARL MILLET. 39
Agricultural value: Foxtail Millet is an important food plant in many parts of Asia, especially in northern China, where the seed is ground and used for porridge. In America it is not used for human food. The best time to cut for hay is when the majority of the plants are in bloom, as the nutritive value of the stems and leaves is then greatest. When the plants begin to blossom, the bristles of the spikes are still soft and harmless, but when the flowering period is over they become stiff and harsh, produce more or less irritation in the digestive tract of the animals, and are said to sometimes form compact balls in the stomach, causing serious trouble or even death. When used for pasture, millet should be grazed before the heads are formed. When grown for hay or pasture, thirty pounds of seed should be sown to the acre; when grown for seed production, twenty pounds are sufficient.
Seed: The seed varies in size. It is always smaller than the seed of Common Millet, but is of the same general shape, though the inner side is more decidedly flat. The colour varies with the variety, ranging from orange and yellow to grey and black. Some-times different coloured seeds are found in the same variety. This is especially the case in Hungarian Grass, the seed of which varies from pale yellow to black; seeds of widely different colour may occur in the same plant and even in the same head. So far as is known, no satisfactory explanation of this fact has been offered. It may be the result of cross-fertilization and thus correspond to the similar phenomenon observed in corn.
A bushel of Foxtail Millet seed weighs forty-eight pounds.
PEARL MILLET (Pennisetum typhoideum Rich.)
Pearl Millet is an annual plant which, on rich alluvial soil and under favourable climatic conditions, reaches a height of from six to fifteen feet. The stems are extremely leafy and the flowers are borne in dense spikes, frequently fourteen inches in length. The plant somewhat resembles corn, although it is more slender and more branching.
Pearl Millet is a native of tropical Africa, where it is as important as wheat is in America. It includes a considerable number of varieties, none of which, however, has proved suitable to the climate of Canada.