Shirohie Millet

(Echinochloa esculenta)

Shirohie is the most commonly available variety with improved vigour and recovery from grazing over the older Japanese variety. (The term “Jap millet” has been used to generically describe the temperate millets therefore incorrectly implying that there is little difference between the two varieties).

The main advantage of the temperate millets is their ability to be sown early when soil temperatures are 14°celsius and rising, providing the opportunity to produce earlier feed ahead of alternate options like sorghum. High quality feed is produced but total yield over the season will be much lower than that of forage sorghum.

Shirohie or temperate millets can be sown on lighter soils than forage sorghums but supporting nutrition and good grazing management is required to get optimum yields.

Temperate millets have a tendency to run to head in hot, dry weather; however this can be minimized through grazing management. Depending on the timing of grazing and growing conditions recovery from grazing will be slower than that of forage sorghum.

There is no hydrocyanic acid (HCN) poisoning risk associated with temperate millets.

Sowing and management recommendations:

Soil temperature at sowing   14" Celsius and above 
Sowing rates Light sandy loam: 7-10 kgs per ha
  Medium sandy loam: 10 - 15 kgs per ha
  Sandy clay loam/irrigation: 20-25 kgs per ha
Sowing depth   3 - 4 cm and light roll after sowing
Fertiliser required
(Kgs per ha for a 2.5t.ha crop)
  N 30; P 8; K 30; plus trace elements
Time to grazing   5 - 6 weeks, then 3 - 4 weeks for subsequent
grazing’s depending on growth rates
Grazing height   20 – 30 cm to get optimum feed quality
but can be grazed up to 50 cm

Comments and Uses:

Shirohie requires good soil nutrition to optimise yield potential and starter fertiliser is required to get good production through to the first grazing. Can be sown earlier than Sorghum crops and is good early feed option that can be utilised before other crop options are available. Shirohie like all millets can run to head when under stress or high summer temperatures resulting in a decline in feed quality.

Suitable for direct feeding to sheep and cattle or silage and hay.