Cultivation Kakun or Foxtail Millet in India

Cultivation Kakun or Foxtail Millet in India


Kakun or Italian Millet (Setaria italica (L.) Beauv.) belongs to the family Poaceae. It is an annual plant with slender and erect stems. It grows to a height of 90-150 centimeters.

Kakun or Italian millet is also popular as Foxtail millet and German millet. It is generally grown as a rainfed crop in India. The kakun grains are cooked just like rice and then utilized. In some regions, kakun grains are ground to flour and consumed in the form of ‘chapaties’. 
Kakun (Italian millet) is a very old crop. Seeds of this millet have been found in early remains such as those of the Swiss lake-dwellers of the Stone Age. This millet was cultivated in China as early as 2700 B.C. Vavilov considered China as its place of origin.  According to him kakun spread to India and other European countries from there.
Kakun is cultivated in India, China, Eastern Europe, Southern parts of the U.S.S.R. and to some extent in African and American countries. In India, it is cultivated in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.

Nutritive Value of Kakun or Foxtail Millet ; 

100 gms of Kakun grain contains – 






12.3 g


81 mg


60.1 g


4 mg


6.7 g


31 mg


4.3 g


2.8 mg


331 Kcal


3.2 µg


188 g

Folic Acid

15 µg

The grains are fed to cage birds. The straw is thin stemmed and is highly liked by cattle. It is not good for horses. In China, Foxtail millet is next to rice and wheat in importance. It provides approximately 15-17 % of the total food consumed in China.

Health Benefits of Kakun or Foxtail Millet:

1) It helps in the proper functioning of the heart.

2) It improves the functioning of the Nervous System:
3) Kakun helps in Weight loss  
4) It is useful in controlling Diabetes
5) It helps in maintaining Strong Bones

6) It provides Strong Immunity
7) It is good for the Skin.
8) Helps in good Digestion
9) Good for Celiac Patients

Climatic Requirements for Kakun or Foxtail Millet;

1) Kakun is cultivated in tropical as well as temperate regions

2) The crop can be grown even at an altitude of 2000 meters. 3) It requires moderate temperature throughout its life cycle.
4) The crop can be grown successfully in areas receiving 
    50-75 centimeter annual rainfall. 
5)  Although its water requirement is low, the plant has no capacity to recover after a long spell of drought.

Soil for Kakun or Foxtail Millet cultivation ;

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

Important Varieties of Kakun or Foxtail

There are several improved varieties of Kakun suitable for growing in different states. some of the improved varieties are ;


Varieties released/ recommended

Varieties popular in the State


Krishna devaraya and Pant Setaria-4.


Pant setaria-4.


Pant setaria-4 and HMT-100-1

SIA-326, PS-4 and TNAU-186.


Pant Setaria-4.


Pant Setaria-4.


Pant Setaria-4.


TNAU-43 and CO (Te)-7.

K-2, K-3, CO-4, CO-5, CO-6 and CO (Te)-7.


Pant setaria-4

West Bengal

Pant setaria-4

Rotations and Mixed Cropping Kakun or Foxtail Millet cultivation ;

Generally, it 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 for Kakun or Foxtail Millet cultivation ;

1) Kakun does not require much field preparation.

2) Before the onset of monsoon, the field should be ploughed once with mould board plough. 
3) With the onset of monsoon, the field should be harrowed or ploughed with a local plough twice in northern India or with blade harrow in south India. 
4) Planking should be done for making the field smooth and well leveled.
Seed and Sowing for 
Kakun or Foxtail Millet cultivation

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

Manures and Fertilisers Requirement for Kakun or Foxtail Millet Cultivation;

1)The crop is usually manured with 5 to 10 tonnes of farmyard manure per hectare. 

2) General fertilizer recommendations to get a good crop are 40-60 kg nitrogen, 30-40 kg P205, and 20-30 kg K20 per hectare.
3) All the fertilizers should be applied as a basal dose at the time of sowing. 
4) 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 Millet Cultivation;

1) Kakun sown during Kharif season does not require any irrigation. 

2) if a dry spell prevails for a longer period, then one or two irrigations must be given to boost yields. 
3) Summer crop, however, would require two to five irrigations depending upon soil type and climatic conditions.
4) During the rainy season, drainage is also essential. 
5) Remove excess rainwater from the field as kakun does not withstand waterlogged conditions.

Weed Control in Kakun or Foxtail Millet Cultivation;

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

Diseases and Pest Management Kakun or Foxtail Millet Cultivation;

Disease ;
1) Kernel Smut 
This is caused by the fungus Ustilago crameri. Affected plants usually are stunted. The affected earheads 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 organo-mercurial compounds like Agrosan G.N. or Ceresan at the rate of 2.5 g per kg of seed. Crop rotation is also recommended, especially in dry areas where the spores persist in the soil.
2) Downy Mildew
This is caused by a fungus, Sclerospora graminicola. Diseased plants are dwarfed with excessive development of tillers. Lengthwise yellow-green streaks are seen on the leaves. In severe infection, chlorotic local lesions develop on the leaves. Later on, leaves start drying.
Control ;
 Remove the infected plants and destroy them. Seed treatment with organo-mercurial compounds may help to control the disease to some extent.
Insect Pests
There is not much problem of insect pests in kakun. Some of the pests which attack kodo may also attack kakun crop. Control measures are similar to kodo crop.

Harvesting and Threshing  of Kakun or Foxtail Millet ; 

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

The yield of Kakun or Foxtail Millet ;

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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