When corn or other crops fail to grow on account of defective seeds, cut worms or other causes; it is necessary frequently to plant something else as a substitute, which will ripen before frosts. But the list of crops which can be grown in Iowa as substitutes in suchcases, is very short. The millets, buck-wheat or beans, are used for such purposes generally; but they have proved failures much oftener than corn, oats, barley or clover. I have grown such crops frequently, not as substitutes for other crops ; but because they were profitable. I intend to grow them in the future also, but I will be careful to select the best varieties for seed, and prepare the ground for them properly. Hungarian grass and, (the weed) Fox-tail, belong to the millet family.
Last spring, we planted a large collection of millets which we procured from many different sources. They were billed to us as Hungarian grass, Common millet, German .millet, Pearl millet and Golden Wonder millet. When they were fully grown, the differences between the varieties proved to be great ; but not greater than the differences between the plants which were grown from the seeds that were received in each of a considerable number of packages, which were labeled German millet. The seeds in a few of them were nearly pure or true to name ; while the plants from the seeds of others showed from twenty-five to fifty variations between Fox-tail and German millet. The Pearl millet lacks vitality and proved a failure on our grounds last year and this year. The common millet is a week earlier than Hungarian grass and two weeks earlier than German millet. Its average heighth on good ground is from 31/2 to 4 feet, and its stalks are slender and liable to be blown down by storms. Its blades are very thin and narrow ; it is smothered frequently in old fields by Fox-tail and other weeds, and it yields only about half as much hay per acre as German millet. The principal distinctions between Hungarian grass and common millet are, that the former is later and larger than the latter. Neither of them are profitable crops, except on rich, clean ground. The average heighth of German millet is about four feet. Its stalks are so large and strong, that it stands up much better during rain storms than wheat, oats or oarley. Its blades are long, very thick and from 3/4 to 1 inch in width. It produces from three to four tons of nutritious hay per acre usually on good ground, and the chinch bugs let it alone; while they are extremely fond of the smaller and earlier varieties. As it is the best of the annual grasses I saved a peck of seeds from carefully selected stalks, to which I expect to add improvements by similar selections of seeds in the future.
Speer, R. P.
Bulletin: Vol. 1
, Article 3.
Available at: https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/bulletin/vol1/iss7/3