Cultivation of Kakun or Foxtail Millet; Complete Information Guide

Cultivation of Kakun or Foxtail Millet ; Complete Information Guide

Cultivation of Kakun or Foxtail Millet; Complete Information Guide

Introduction  ;

Kakun or Italian millet (Setaria italica (L.) Beauv.) belongs to the family Poaceae or Gramineae.  It is mostly grown as a rainfed crop in India and it is the second most popular millet after the pearl millet. it is also popular as Foxtail millet and German millet. Kakun or foxtail is an annual with slender and erect stems. It grows to a height of 90-150 cm and bends down a great deal with the weight of gearheads .the grains are cooked like rice and then utilized. In some areas, the grains are ground to four and used in the form of ‘chapaties’.

Some common Names of Foxtail millet are ;

Italian Millet, Kangni (Hindi), Kankum (Hindi), Rala (Hindi), Navane (Kannada), Thinai (tamil), Kang (Marati), Rala (Marahti), Kangu (Oriya), Kora (Telugu)

In India, it is cultivated in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.

Nutritive Value of Kakun or Foxtail Millet ;

100 grams of Foxtail millet contains;






12 g


0.1 mg




4.0  mg




63.2 mg


4 g


31.0  mg


11.2 g


2.80 mg


351 Kcal



Foxtail Millet also grants  803 g of isoleucine, 1764 g of leucine, 103 g of tryptophan, 328 g of threonine, 233 g of lysine
The grains are fed to cage birds. The straw is thin-stemmed and is liked by cattle. It is not good for horses. In China, Italian millet is next to rice and wheat in importance. It provides approximately 15-17 percent of the total food consumed in China.

Important Health Benefits of Foxtail Millets Intake ;

1) it helps in the proper functioning of the nervous system.
2) It is also beneficial for bone and muscle health.

3) Kakun or foxtail millet is good for Cardiac Health.
4) It regulates blood sugar levels.
5) It Helps in lowering Blood Cholesterol.
6) Good digestion for digestion.
7) Helps with weight loss
8) Improves Immunity

Climatic Requirements for Kakun or Foxtail Millet;

It is cultivated in tropical as well as temperate regions. The crop can be grown even at an altitude of 2000 meters. It requires moderate temperature throughout its life cycle. The crop can be grown successfully in areas receiving 50-75 cm. annual rainfall. Although its water requirement is low, the plant has no capacity to recover after a long spell of drought.

Soil Requirement for Kakun or Foxtail millet cultivation;

Kakun requires fairly fertile soil for good yields, although it can grow in poor soils. Light soils including red loams, alluvials, and black cotton soils are all suitable for its cultivation but it thrives best on rich, well-drained loam soils

Rotations and Mixed Cropping;

Mostly, Foxtail or kakun millet is sown as a mixed crop with cotton, maize, arhar, and black gram, but sometimes it is raised as a pure crop. When it is sown as a pure crop the following crop rotations are followed:

Field Preparation ;
Kakun does not require much field preparation. Before the onset of soon the field should be ploughed once with a mouldboard plough. With the onset of the monsoon, the field should be harrowed or ploughed with a local plough twice in northern India or with blade harrow in south India. Planking should be done for making the field smooth and well-leveled.

Important Varieties of Kakun or Foxtail millet;




Andhra Pradesh

SiA 3088, SiA 3156, SiA 3085, Lepakshi, SiA 326


SiA 326, HMT 100-1 and PS 4, Sreelaxmi, KO 12, Narasimharaya, SiA 3088, SiA 3156

Tamil Nadu

TNAU 196 and TNAU 43, CO (Ten) 7,TNAU 186, CO 1, CO 2, CO 4, CO 5, K2, K3


Prathap Kangani (SR 1) and SR 51, SR 11, Sreelaxmi, SR 16, SiA 3085

Uttar Pradesh

PRK 1 and PS 4, SiA 3088, 3085, Sreelaxmi, Narasimharaya, S-114, SiA 326


PS 4 and PRK 1, Sreelaxmi, SiA 326



Seed and Sowing of Kakun or Foxtail millet 

a) Sowing Time; 

An early crop of kakun is sown in May, the main crop in June-July while the late in August. In areas of assured water supply, summer crop is sown in February-March. The optimum time of sowing of kakun in Tamil Nadu is August-September for a rainfed crop and June-July for irrigated ones. In Madhya Pradesh it is grown as a rainfed crop and, therefore, sowing at the onset of monsoon is preferred.
b) Sowing Method ;
The crop is generally sown in rows at a 25-30 cm distance. Seeds should be sown in furrows 2-3 Cm. deep.
c) Seed Rate; 
8 to 10 kg seed is sufficient for the sowing of one hectare of land. Kakun is sometimes sown by broadcast but it is not a good practice. Seed should be treated with organo-mercurial compounds at the rate of 2.5 g per kg of seed.

Manures and Fertilisers Requirement in Kakun or Foxtail ; 

The crop is usually manured with 5 to 10 tonnes of farmyard manure per hectare. General fertilizer recommendations to get a good crop are 40-60 kg nitrogen, 30-40 kg P2O5, and 20-30 kg K20 per hectare. All the fertilizers should be applied as a basal dose at the time of sowing. If irrigation is available apply only half of the nitrogen and full amount of phosphorus and potash at the time of sowing and the remaining half quantity of nitrogen at the time of first irrigation.

Water Management in Kakun or Foxtail crop ;

Kakun sown during the Kharif season does not require any irrigation. However, if a dry spell prevails for a longer period, then one or two irrigations must be given to boost yields. Summer crops, however, would require two to five irrigations depending upon soil type and climatic conditions. During the rainy season, drainage is also essential. Remove excess rainwater from the field as kakun does not withstand waterlogged conditions.

Weed Control ;

It is desirable to control the weeds in the initial stage of plant growth. Two to three weedings with a hand hoe are sufficient to keep the weeds in control.

Diseases Management in Kakun or Foxtail ;

a) Kernel Smut ;
Affected plants usually are stunted. The affected ear heads are full of black masses. The caryopsis is replaced by the dark spore mass. The floral bracts often break to release the spores as the plant approaches maturity. Since it is a seed-borne disease, it can be controlled by treating the seeds with 
thiram or ceresan @ 2.5 g/kg of seed and soaking seeds in hot water at 55 oC for 7-12 minutes and the Crop rotation is also recommended, especially in. dry areas where the spores persist in the soil.

b) Downy Mildew ;
Diseased plants are dwarfed by the excessive development of tillers. Lengthwise yellow-g streaks are seen on the leaves. In severe infection, chlorotic local lesi develop on the leaves. Later on, the leaves start drying. Remove the infected
plants and destroy them. The spray
 of 0.2% solution of Mancozeb 75 WP may help to control the disease and seed treatment also helps in controlling the disease.

insect pests ;

There is not much problem with insect pests in Kakun. Some of the pests which attack kodo may also attack the Kakun crop. Control measures are similar to Kodo crops.

Harvesting and Threshing of Kakun or Foxtail  crop ;

The crop flowers in 50-60 days and matures in 80-100 days. The crop is harvested when the ear-heads are dry, either by cutting the whole plant by sickle or the ears separately. After drying for a few days, threshing is done with a stone roller or by trampling under the feet of bullocks.

Yield Kakun or Foxtail ;

The yield of the rainfed crop ranges from 600-1000 kg grain and 1000 to 2000 kg straw per hectare. The irrigated crop yields 1000-1600 kg grain and 2000 to 4000 kg straw per hectare.

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