University of Missouri Extension

M181, New February 2012

Dairy Grazing: Selecting the Right Forage

Pearlmillet (Pennisetum americanum (L.) Leeke)

Warm-season grasses

Pearlmillet is an annual warm-season grass that produces most of its forage during midsummer. Other millets, such as proso, foxtail, Japanese or German, are often used in silage or hay mixtures, but they produce less forage and have a shorter grazing season than pearlmillet. Pearlmillet is an excellent choice for warm-season pasture in the Ozarks because it tolerates acidic soils and drought. Pearlmillet can produce 8,000 to 12,000 lb/acre of forage when harvested to a 6- to 10-inch stubble after accumulated growth reaches a height of 18 to 30 inches. Unlike sorghum-sudangrass, it does not contain prussic acid. It responds well to split applications of nitrogen at establishment and then again after the first grazing. Pearlmillet is a nitrate accumulator when water is lacking. It should be tested for nitrate levels before grazing during or immediately after a drought.


Yield distributionYield distribution of pearlmillet in Missouri.

Seed head
Seed head

Collar region
Collar region

M181 Dairy Grazing: Selecting the Right Forage | University of Missouri Extension

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