Sprague, Howard B. Agricultural Consultant, Washington, DC.
Rodenhiser, Herman A. Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC.
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A common name applied to at least six related members of the grass family grown for their edible seeds: foxtail millet (Setaria italica), proso millet (Panicum miliaceum), pearl or cattail millet (Pennisetum glaucum; alternatively Pennisetum typhoideum), Japanese or barnyard millet (Echinochloa frumentacea), ragi or finger millet (Eleusine coracana), and koda millet (Paspalum scrobiculatum). Millets have been used since prehistoric times as food crops, primarily in regions where the warm growing season is short (60–120 days), or in dry regions where rainfall periodicity provides a short period when soil moisture permits growth and ripening of a short-season crop. Under these climatic conditions, one or more millets are grown in such diverse geographic regions as Russia, China, India, Africa, and Latin America. See also: Cyperales; Domestication (anthropology); Grain crops; Grass crops; Poales; Seed
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