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Echinochloa esculenta
OTHER-MILLET-JAPANESE (11G) or Barnyard Millet can serve as part of a green manure crop for crop rotation, soil restoration and erosion control.  Alternatively, you can grow it separately as fodder for animals and grain for birds.  Sow the frost-tender seeds in spring and summer when soil temperatures exceed 15°C, as frost will kill the plants.

Livestock can graze on it before six weeks.  Or it can be turned into silage before it seeds, and hay or grain once the seeds appear but before they scatter.   You can also process it into flour for bread making.  It is also rich in carbohydrates, proteins, dietary fiber, and essential minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and iron.  Being a gluten-free grain makes it suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
“The grain contains twice the protein content of regular milled white rice (Yabuno, 1987)” and is gluten free.

Well suited for colder climates and wet soil, Japanese Millet can survive in standing water and flooded soil. Although considered a weed in rice paddies, it serves as a great cover crop for weed control when mixed with cowpeas.  This increases the nitrogen fixation of the cowpeas.

Japanese millet is a drought tolerant, high yielding plant that is easy-to-grow for any gardener, and tolerates a wide range of soil types and conditions.  It thrives in warm conditions with temperatures ranging from 18-30°C (64-86°F).  The seeds germinate best when the soil temperature is between 18-25°C (64-77°F).
Grow with other Green Manuer crops such as mustardcow peaswhite prossolupin legumes and crimson clover. Or you can purchase the Green Manuer Spring Mix

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How to grow Japanese Millet

  1. Japanese millet prefers a location that receives full sun with well-draining soil. It can tolerate a wide range of soil types, including sandy and clay soils, but it prefers soil that is slightly acidic, with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0.
  2. Before planting, prepare the soil by removing any debris or weeds, and till the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches. Japanese millet is not a heavy feeder, but it will benefit from the addition of a balanced fertiliser, such as a 10-10-10 or a 5-10-10.
  3. Seeds can be sown directly in the garden after the last frost date in your area, or started indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. The seeds can be sown at a rate of about 4-5 pounds per acre, or about 1-2 ounces per 100 square feet. Sow the seeds 1/4 inch deep and about 1 inch apart.
  4. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seedlings are established. Then, water as needed to keep the soil from drying out. Fertilise with a balanced fertiliser, such as a 10-10-10, when the plants are about 6 inches tall, and again when the plants are about 12 inches tall.
  5. Japanese millet can be sensitive to competition from weeds, so it is important to keep the area around the plants free of weeds. You can use mulch or hand pull the weeds.
  6. Harvest you Japanese Millet for forage when the plants are at the boot stage, and for grain, it is harvested when the seed heads turn golden brown.  The grain can be threshed by hand or with a machine.

Additional tips for growing Japanese Millet

  1. Intercropping with Fast-Growing Greens:
    • Plant fast-growing greens like lettuce or spinach between rows of Japanese Millet. These greens will be harvested before the millet grows too large, maximising space and providing additional crops early in the season.
  2. Use of Mycorrhizal Fungi:
    • Inoculate the soil with mycorrhizal fungi when planting Japanese Millet. These beneficial fungi form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots, improving nutrient and water uptake, which can result in healthier and more robust plants.
  3. Companion Planting with Beneficial Herbs:
    • Plant herbs like basil, mint, or oregano nearby. These herbs can help deter pests naturally with their strong scents and can improve the overall health of the millet by attracting beneficial insects.
  4. Staggered Planting:
    • Plant Japanese Millet in stages, a week or two apart. This ensures a continuous harvest and helps manage resources better by not overwhelming your garden space or water supply all at once.
  5. Mulching with Straw or Grass Clippings:
    • Use organic mulch such as straw or grass clippings around the base of the plants. This helps retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and adds organic matter to the soil as it decomposes.
  6. Foliar Feeding:
    • Apply a diluted seaweed or fish emulsion foliar spray to the leaves every couple of weeks. This provides additional micronutrients that can boost plant growth and resilience to stress.  Though I never do this and still get a good crop.
  7. DIY Pest Control:
    • Create a homemade insecticidal soap by mixing water with a small amount of dish soap and neem oil. Spray this mixture on plants to control aphids and other soft-bodied pests.  This is usefull if you are growing other green manure crops that can attract aphids.
  8. Use of Reflective Mulch:
    • Place aluminium foil or other reflective materials between rows. This can help increase light exposure to the plants, enhancing photosynthesis, and deterring some pests that dislike the reflective surfaces. I personally have did not find this necessary.
  9. Watering with Rainwater:
    • Collect rainwater to use for watering your Japanese Millet. Rainwater is often less harsh than tap water and can contain beneficial nutrients that promote healthier plant growth. But regular tap water will work just fine too. 
  10. Windbreaks for Better Growth:
    • If you’re in a windy area, plant windbreaks or use temporary barriers like burlap screens around your millet plot. This can protect young plants from wind damage and reduce moisture loss due to evaporation.  Though this situarion is more for farmers and not home growers in a back yard environment where fences create a barrier to strong winds.
  11. Regular Rotation and Cover Cropping:
    • Practice crop rotation by alternating Japanese Millet with legumes or cover crops like clover or vetch. This helps replenish soil nutrients, particularly nitrogen, and prevents the buildup of pests and diseases.
  12. Singing to Your Plants:
    • Though it might seem odd, some gardeners believe that talking or singing to plants can positively affect their growth. While not scientifically proven, the added attention may lead to better care and more frequent monitoring.  And I personally never found the time to sing to my plants.  lol

Heritage of Japanese Millet

Japanese Millet is believed to have originated in East Asia, (China, Japan, and Korea) and domesticated from barnyard grass (E. crus-galli).  Domestication dates back thousands of years.  Archaeological evidence suggests that it was cultivated as early as 5000 BCE in China and other parts of East Asia. It was an essential crop in Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures.

In Japan, Japanese Millet, known as “awa” (粟), was a staple food before rice became predominant. It played a crucial role in the diet of ancient Japanese people, particularly in regions where rice cultivation was challenging.   It was used to make traditional foods such as millet cakes and porridge. Millet festivals and rituals were also part of the agricultural traditions, celebrating the harvest and honoring the deities associated with agriculture.

Though adaptability to various growing conditions, including poor soils and drought-prone areas, it has been largely replaced by rice and other grains in many parts of East Asia.  In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in millet and other ancient grains due to their health benefits, gluten-free properties, and potential for sustainable agriculture.

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Category Colour Guide
Planting Guide for Australia

Scoville Heat Units (SHU)

Plant Height (cm)

60-100 cm (2-3 feet)

Season of Interest

Summer early Autumn

Temperature Range (°C)

18-30°C (64-86°F)

Determine / Indeterminate

Annual / Perennial / Biennial


Frost Hardy / Tender


Full Sun / Part Sun / Shade

Full Sun

Sow Direct / Raise Seedlings

Sow Direct


Well-drained fertile loamy soil



Soil Temperature (°C)

18-25°C (64-77°F)

Seed Preparation

Soaking seeds overnight can enhance germination

Sowing Depth (mm)

0.5-1 cm (0.2-0.4 inches)

Plant Spacing (cm)

20-30 cm (8-12 inches)

Row spacing (cm)

30-45 cm (12-18 inches)


Moderate, keep soil consistently moist but not waterlogged

Germination Time (Days)

7-14 days

Harvest Time (Days)

60-90 days

Good Companion Plants

Legumes (e.g., beans, peas), sunflowers, marigolds

Bad Companion Plants

None specifically noted, but avoid planting with crops that have high water or nutrient competition.


Aphids, Grasshoppers, Armyworms


Leaf spot, Downy mildew, Rust

More About Us

ABSeeds is an Australian owned business trading under the umbrella of Direct Compost Solutions which is owned and managed by Victoria Brun.

We as a company endeavor to provide to the public, Organic, Old Fashioned, Heritage, and Open-pollinated seeds that have not been genetically modified.

We purchased the business in November 2018 and renamed it to ABSeeds (All ‘Bout Seeds) to make the title shorter and represent what we hope to achieve with this business in the years ahead.

Seeds that we can’t grow ourselves we will acquire from people who grow for us, or we may purchase seeds from reputable heritage seed companies.

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