How to Plant Brown Top Millet

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Home garders plant browntop millet (Panicum ramosum, also called Urochloa ramosa or Brachiaria ramosa) to attract wild birds to nature gardens and to collect the seed for bird feeders. You can either sow the small browntop millet seeds shallowly or scatter them on top of the ground. Seeding rates depend on whether you are planting it for bird cover or for its seed.

Climate

  • Browntop millet is warm season annual bunch-grass that grows 2 to 3 feet tall. It is native to humid climates of the Southeast Asia and has become naturalized in Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky, south to Florida and west to Texas and Oklahoma, an area roughly corresponding to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 10. It dies at the first autumn frost.

Soil, Rainfall and Nutrients

  • Browntop millet likes sandy-loam soil with a 5 to 6.5 soil pH. Sandy loam is sandy soil that also contains clay and silt. It does not like soil with a pH above 7. It likes 30 to 60 inches of annual rainfall and does not perform well in drought or in soils that are soggy. If you have not had your soil tested for nutrient deficiencies, fertilize your soil before seeding with 1 2/5 pounds of nitrogen (N), 9/10 pound of phosphorus (P) and 1 2/5 pound of potassium (K) per 1,000 square feet. Work the fertilizer into the top 6 inches of soil. The three fertilizer numbers on a bag show the ratio by weight of N, P and K.

Planting Depth and Rates

  • Sow browntop millet 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep at the rate of 1/3 to 1/2 pound per 1,000 square feet or scatter 1/2 to 1/3 pound of seed per 1,000 square feet on top of the ground. Plant it any time between early spring and early summer. Browntop millet seedheads shatter easily, so it naturally reseeds itself. Water the planting site after sowing the seeds and water weekly, depending on local weather conditions and rainfall.

Maturation and Yield

  • Browntop millet matures in 60 to 90 days. If you are a home grower wanting to attract wild birds to your garden, sow the seeds at the lower rates to provide clear, open ground in the millet that birds like. If you want to collect seeds for bird feeders, sow at the heavier rates. If you grow it for its seed, it should yield roughly 28 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet.

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  • Photo Credit BoValentino/iStock/Getty Images
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