Barnyard Millet or Sawan Cultivation in India

Barnyard millet or Sawan Cultivation in India

Barnyard millet or Sawan Cultivation in India


Sawan or Barnyard millet (Echinochloa frumentacea L.) is an herbaceous annual plant that tillers sparsely. This plant grows up to a height of 60 to 120 centimeter It is a grain crop of lesser importance. It is a highly drought-resistant crop but is also capable of withstanding waterlogging conditions. It is generally grown as a rainfed crop. Sawan grains are consumed just like rice. Barnyard millet is also used in making rice pudding (kheer).

Barnyard millet(Sawan) also mentioned in ancient literature of India. This millet has been cultivated in China for more than 2000 years. Some of the investigators think that Sawan probably originated somewhere in Central Asia. It spread from Central Asia to Europe and America.
Sawan or barnyard millet is grown in India, China, Japan, Malaysia, and East Indies. In China and Japan, it is said to be grown as a substitute crop when the rice crop fails. It is also grown to some extent in Africa and the United States of America.
In India, it is grown in states like  Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Bihar.

Vernacular Names of Barnyard Millet or Sawan ;

English ; Barnyard Millet
Hindi; Sanwa, Jhangon
Sanskrit; Shyama
Kannada; Oodalu
Tamil; Kuthiravaali
Malayalam; Panivaragu
Marathi; Shamul
Gujarati; Sama
Bengali; Shamula
Punjabi; Swank

Nutritive Value of Barnyard millet or Sawan;

The nutrient value of 100 gms Barnyard are as follows ;






11 g


22 mg


3.9 g


18.6 mg

Crude Fiber

13.6 g


0,33 mg


55 g


0.10 mg


300 kcal


4.2 mg

The grain is eaten mostly by the poor classes, but sometimes it is brewed for beer. This millet is also used as feed for cage birds. The straw makes good fodder for cattle. Barnyard millet’s green fodder is very much relished by cattle.

Health Benefits Barnyard millet or Sawan

Barnyard millet or Sawan Cultivation in India
Sawa (Barnyard Millet.) Dosa Credit; CCO Public Domain Flickr

1) Rich in Fiber; It is a good source of dietary fiber its grain contains the highest amount of fiber in contrast to other grains and millets.
2) Low in Calories; Barnyard millet is a good source of highly digestible protein and low in calories 

3) Gluten-Free Food; It is gluten-free. It is an appropriate food for patients who are intolerant to gluten ( celiac disease).
4) Good Source of Iron
5) Low Glycemic Index: The carbohydrate content of barnyard millet (Sawan) is low and its slow-digesting process, making the barnyard millet a low glycemic index food. therefore, it can be recommended for patients with cardiac disease and diabetes 

Climatic Requirements for Barnyard millet or Sawan Crop;

1) Barnyard or Sawan millet is a drought-tolerant crop and hence is grown as a rainfed crop.

2) It can be grown successfully under partially waterlogged conditions. 
3) It is grown from sea level to an altitude of 2000 meters on the Himalayan slopes.
4) A warm and moderately humid climate is good for raising sawan millet. 
5) It is a hardy crop and is able to withstand adverse conditions of weather better than other cereals.

Soil Requirements for Barnyard millet or Sawan Crop;

1) Sawan is generally cultivated in soils of marginal fertility. 

2) It can be grown in partially waterlogged soils such as low lands on the banks  
3) But it thrives best on sandy loam to loam soil having a sufficient amount of organic matter. 
4) Gravely and stony soils with poor fertility are not suitable for raising sawan crops.

Important Varieties Barnyard millet or Sawan Crop


Varieties released/ recommended

Varieties popular in the State


VL-Madira-181 and VL-Madira-2007.






VL-Madira-181 and VL-Madira-2007.



VL-Madira-172, VL-Madira-181 and VL-Madira-2007.

VLM-181, VLM-172 and VLM-29.





Pratap sanwa-1 and VL-Madira-2007.




CO-1, K-1 and K-2.


Kanchan and VL-Madira-172



Kanchan, VL-Madira-172, VL-Madira-2007 and PRJ-1

VLM-172, VLM-29, VLM-2007 and PRJ-1.

Rotations and Mixed Cropping in Barnyard millet or Sawan Crop;

1) It is raised as a pure crop in rotation with gram, pea, linseed, barley, etc. The common rotations are given below:
2) It is also grown mixed with cotton, pigeon pea, or other short-duration pulses.

Field Preparation for Barnyard Millet or Sawan Crop

Since it is cultivated in very light and marginal soils, the land is given only limited preparatory cultivation. Two ploughings with a local plough or harrowing followed by planking are sufficient to prepare the seedbed for sawan.

Seed and Sowing for Barnyard millet or Sawan Crop

1) Sawan can be sown in the first fortnight of July with the onset of monsoon rains. 

2) The seed is broadcast or drilled in furrows 3-4 centimeters deep at the rate of 8-10 kg per hectare. 
3) Transplanting is also done in some places in Maharashtra. 
4) It is always better to sow it in rows 25 centimeters apart. 
5) In flood-affected areas, it is sown with the first showers of rain by broadcast method and harvested before the flood may come.

Manures and Fertilisers Requirement in Barnyard millet or Sawan Crop;

1) Farm Yard manure or compost at the rate of 5 to 10 tonnes per hectare should be added for boosting the yield. 

2) It can be supplemented with 40 kg nitrogen, 30 kg P205, and 20 kg K20. per hectare.
3) All the fertilizer should be added to the soil at the time of sowing.
4) If irrigation facilities are available, half of the nitrogen should be topdressed in a standing crop after 25-30 days of sowing.

Water Management in Barnyard millet or Sawan Crop;

Generally, Sawan does not require any irrigation. However, if a dry spell prevails for a long period, then one irrigation must be given at the time of the panicle initiation stage. It is always better if excess water from heavy rains is drained out of the field.

Weed Control in Barnyard millet or Sawan Crop;

1) The field should be kept weed-free up to 25-30 days after sowing. 

2) Two weddings are sufficient to control the weeds in the Sawan field. 
3) Weeding may be done with a hand hoe or wheel hoe in line sown crop.

Diseases and Pest Management in Barnyard Millet or Sawan Crop ;

a) Disease Management ;

1) Downy Mildew ;
It is caused by a fungus. Sometimes it may cause severe damage to the crop plants. In the beginning, the light yellow bands are seen on the leaves which in due course of time become white. Later on, leaves start drying, and in case of severe infection earheads become chaffy. Remove the infected plants and destroy them. 
Control ;
Use seeds from healthy plants only.
2) Smut
It is also caused by a fungus. The affected panicles are full of black masses instead of grains. 
Control ;
This is a seed-borne disease and can be controlled by treating the seed with Agrosan G.N. or Ceresan at the rate of 2.5 g per kg of seed or hot water treatment (soaking the seed in hot water at 55°C for 7-12 minutes)
3) Rust
It is caused by a fungus. Black spots are seen in lines on leaves. It causes a considerable reduction in grain yield. 
A spray of Dithane M-45 at the rate of 2 kg in 1000 liters of water per hectare may check the spread of this disease.
Insect Pests Management ;
Termites and stem borers are important pests of this crop. Termites can be controlled by using 5% Aldrin or Heptachlor dust at the rate of 15-20 kg per hectare before sowing. It should be mixed properly in the soil. Stem borer can be controlled by applying 15 kg Thimet granules per hectare.
Barnyard millet or Sawan Cultivation in India
Panicle of the Barnyard Millet

Harvesting and Threshing of Barnyard millet or Sawan Crop ; 

1) The crop should be harvested when it is ripe.
2) It is cut from the ground level with the help of sickles and stacked in the field for about a week before threshing. 
3) Threshing is done by trampling under the feet of bullocks.

The Yield of Barnyard millet or Sawan Crop ;

The average yield of grain is 400 to 600 kg per hectare and that of fodder or straw is around 1200 kg per hectare. With an improved package of practices, it is possible to harvest 10-12 quintals of grain per hectare.

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