Information gathered from the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) was used to compile this summary on how to use Japanese millet as a cover crop in Ohio. For more information, see the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide, Third Edition, and the Cover Crop Selector Tool found at: midwestcovercrops.org/selector-tool/.
- Thick stems and a coarser appearance than other millets
- Coarse and hairless leaves; 4–20 inches long
- Brown to purple inforescences
- Summer annual
- Minimum germination temperature: 65 degrees Fahrenheit
- Reliable establishment window (state average): May 20–Sept. 6
- Upright growth habit: 2–4 feet
- Preferred soil pH: 5.5–7.5
|Low fertility tolerance||Very good|
|Winter survival||Winter-killed; sensitive to frost|
- Drilled at ½–¾ inch
- 12–15 lb./acre (pure live seed)
- Broadcast with shallow incorporation
- 14–17 lb./acre (pure live seed)
- Broadcast without incorporation is not recommended
Additional planting information:
- 142,900 seeds per lb.
- When planting on slopes or using for forage/grazing, increase seeding rate.
Disclaimer: Rules for Financial Assistance Program Recipients
Individuals participating in financial assistance programs are required to follow Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Appendix A regarding seeding rates and dates. Failure to do so will jeopardize payments. Appendix A can be found in Ohio’s Field Office Technical Guide, Section 4, Ecological Sciences Tools: efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/#/state/OH/documents/section=4&folder=-6.
- Dry matter = 1,500–3,500 lb. per acre, per year
- Biomass quantity is highly dependent on planting/termination dates and precipitation.
Additional performance information:
- Under certain conditions, nitrate poisoning is possible.
- Cut forage more than 6 inches to avoid nitrate toxicity.
- Mid-season cutting increases root penetration.
- Japanese millet tolerates wet soils, flooding, and ponding.
- Japanese millet does not tolerate shade.
|Nitrogen scavenger||Very good|
|Soil builder||Very good|
|Erosion fighter||Very good|
|Weed fighter||Very good|
|Lasting residue||Very good|
|Mechanical forage harvest||Excellent|
- If terminating with only tillage, multiple passes are often required.
Additional termination information:
- Mowing Japanese millet after heading may terminate it.
- Japanese millet can produce a lot of seed if it is allowed to reach maturity.
- Follow NRCS guidelines for cover crop termination dates to comply with crop insurance.
|Frees phosphorus (P) and potassium (K)||Good|
|Allelopathic (produces biochemicals that inhibit weeds)||Very good|
|Bears traffic||Very good|
Increased weed potential: could be a minor problem
Increased insects/nematodes: occasionally a minor problem
Hinders crops: occasionally a minor problem
Mature incorporation challenges: could be a moderate problem
This publication was adapted with consent from the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) with content from the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide, Third Edition, and Cover Crop Selector Tool (midwestcovercrops.org/selector-tool/). It was created under a joint project with MCCC to produce customized introductory guidance about cover crops for all member states/provinces. Ohio cover crop recipes can be found at midwestcovercrops.org/statesprovince/ohio/.
The Midwest Cover Crops Council (midwestcovercrops.org) aims to facilitate widespread adoption of cover crops throughout the Midwest by providing educational/outreach resources and programs, conducting new research, and communicating about cover crops to the public.
Funding for this project was provided by the McKnight Foundation.