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Describe the production of finger millet under the following subtopics:ecological requirements, varieties, land preparation, planting, field management practises and harvesting.

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  1. Ecological Requirements:
    • Finger millet is a hardy crop that can thrive in a range of ecological conditions, making it suitable for both tropical and subtropical regions.
    • It is typically grown at altitudes ranging from sea level to 2,400 meters above sea level.
    • Finger millet prefers well-drained soils but can tolerate poor soils with low fertility.
    • It requires a rainfall range of 500 to 1,500 mm annually. Rainfall during the growing season is crucial.
  2. Varieties:
    • There are various finger millet varieties available, and the choice of variety depends on local conditions and preferences.
    • Popular varieties include Ragi (popular in India), U-15, P-224, and IE-487.
  3. Land Preparation:
    • Clear the land of weeds and debris to ensure a clean seedbed.
    • Plow or dig the soil to a depth of about 15-20 cm to improve soil aeration and break compacted layers.
    • Incorporate organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure to enhance soil fertility.
    • Create ridges or furrows to facilitate water management and prevent waterlogging.
  4. Planting:
    • Finger millet can be grown from seeds, and the planting method often depends on local practices.
    • Seeds can be sown directly in rows or broadcast.
    • Optimal planting depth is around 2-3 cm.
    • Plant spacing varies but is typically around 20-25 cm between rows and 5-10 cm between plants in a row.
    • Sow seeds at the beginning of the rainy season when soil moisture is sufficient.
  5. Field Management Practices:
    • Weed Control: Regular weeding is crucial during the early stages of growth to reduce competition for nutrients and sunlight.
    • Water Management: Adequate moisture is essential. Supplemental irrigation may be necessary during dry spells.
    • Fertilization: Depending on soil conditions, apply balanced fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
    • Pest and Disease Management: Monitor for common pests like armyworms and diseases like blast. Use appropriate pesticides or cultural practices as needed.
  6. Harvesting:
    • Finger millet is typically ready for harvest in about 3-4 months after planting.
    • Harvest when the panicles (seed-bearing structures) turn brown and the grains harden.
    • Cut the entire plant at ground level, bundle them, and allow them to dry in the field for a few days.
    • Thresh the dried panicles to separate the grains from the rest of the plant material.
    • Winnow to remove chaff and other debris.
    • Store the harvested grains in a cool, dry place in airtight containers to prevent moisture and pest damage.
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