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A pre-pandemic tour of a proso millet variety plots at High Plains Ag Lab near Sidney. After the pandemic, face-to-face field days will be possible again but the variety trial results are always available online as well. (Courtesy of UNL.)

Results of University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s 2020 variety trials for proso millet have been compiled and are now available on CropWatch.

Variety trials were conducted at two sites in the Panhandle (Cheyenne County and Deuel County) and one in South Dakota (Sturgis). Each site was dryland (rain-fed). At each site, 30 varieties were planted, including 25 experimental lines and five check varieties consisting of commercially available varieties.

On CropWatch’s Variety Trials page, the 2020 proso millet variety trial results can be viewed alongside variety trial results for 2018 and 2019, along with variety trial results for several other crops—dry edible beans, industrial hemp, oats, pea and sunflower (2020 results will be available soon). Data for earlier years is located on an archive page.

The annual report lists data for each variety at both Nebraska sites: yield (in order of rank); test weight; heading date; and height. Data listed for the South Dakota site includes yield by rank.

All the breeding lines are intended for multiple uses—bird feed, human food and feedstock for alcoholic fermentation (millet whiskey and millet beer). The exception is Plateau, a waxy millet, which is primarily used for human food uses in Asian countries, predominantly Japan and Korea.

“We are trying to identify varieties which are specific for specific end uses. Currently, there is no specific variety specification for specific uses. It may come in the future. The same variety is used for multiple uses,” said Dipak Santra, alternative crops breeding specialist at the Panhandle Research, Extension and Education Center.

Overall, South Dakota yields were average, Cheyenne and Deuel County yields below average, primarily because of very low precipitation during the growing season. Several experimental lines produced consistently higher yields than the check lines, which included the commercially available varieties Huntsman, Horizon, Earlybird, Sunrise and Plateau.

Santra plans to select one or two of the experimental lines that produced consistently higher yields for potential release. It is possible that one line will be approved for release in 2021, with limited seed available as early as 2022.

Results by county

Cheyenne County: The overall average yield was 840 pounds per acre, with range of 380-1094 pounds per acre. Five experimental lines had yields higher than Sunrise, the highest yielding of the check varieties.

Deuel County: The overall average yield was 794 pounds per acre. Among the check varieties, Horizon posted the highest yield, 959 pounds per acre. Two experimental lines had higher yields. The yield ranged from 583 to 1073 pounds per acre. That range was similar to Cheyenne County.

Sturgis, S.D.: The overall average yield was 951 pounds per acre, ranging from 506 to 1,495 to 506. Highest check variety was Huntsman, 1237 pounds per acre. Above Huntsman were two experimental lines.

Santra expressed appreciation to cooperators Pete Miller of Lodgepole (Deuel County plot) and Christopher Graham, associate professor and agronomist at South Dakota State University, Rapid City (Sturgis plot). The Cheyenne County plot was at the High Plains Ag Lab. He also acknowledged the work of the alternative crops breeding crew at UNL, including Vernon Florke, Rituraj Khound, Thiago Santos, Allison Rickey, Zoe Van Dyke and Alyssa Cruz.

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