Millet is a collective term for kleinfrüchtiges Spelzgetreide with 10-12 genera. They belong to the family of grasses ( Poaceae ). The name comes from the millet Altgermanischen ( OHG Hirsa next hirsi and hirso ) and is derived from an Indo-European word for " saturation, nutrient, nutritious " (cf. the Roman goddess of agriculture and fertility Ceres ). Millet is the oldest cereals. You already served 8,000 years ago to establish unleavened flatbread. In China, millet is used for agricultural purposes for at least 4000 years. The proso millet or True ( Panicum miliaceum ) was formerly cultivated in Europe as a food.

All types of millet can also be divided into two main groups:

Utilized types

Among the cultivated millets include these types:

  • Proso millet ( Panicum miliaceum L.)
  • Sowihirse ( Panicum hirticaule J.Presl )
  • Kutkihirse ( Panicum sumatrense Roth)
  • Gabelblütige millet ( Panicum dichotomiflorum A. Michaux )
  • Switchgrass ( Panicum virgatum L.)
  • Pearl millet ( Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R.Br. )
  • Kodohirse ( Paspalum scrobiculatum L.)
  • Japan millet ( Echinochloa esculenta ( A.Braun ) H.Scholz )
  • Finger millet ( Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn. )
  • Fonio ( Digitaria exilis ( Kippist ) Stapf )
  • Coix ( Coix lacryma - jobi L.)
  • Guinea millet ( Urochloa deflexa ( Schumach. ) H.Scholz )
  • Brown Millet ( Urochloa ramosa (L.) R.D.Webster )


The economically most important millets are the pearl millet, the sorghum (sweet sorghum ), finger millet, proso millet, the, the foxtail millet and teff, also called dwarf millet.

Food and feed

Millet is the richest mineral grains. Millet fluorine, sulfur, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and particularly much silicon ( silicic acid ), and iron are present. In commercial practice is freed from shells gold millet. There are next to the unpeeled brown millet, in the most adherent to the shells minerals and trace elements are obtained. However, It is possible that the hydrocyanic acid content not quite safe especially in raw millet. Millet may be used for the preparation of gluten-free baked goods. In many areas of Africa and Asia are the different kinds of millet staple food, however, are increasingly being replaced by maize. Millet also serves as a food and in Eastern Europe for livestock feed in Europe and North America for bird feed for the pet bird attitude.

Millet is also the basis of some traditional beers, for example Dolo in West Africa, pombe in East Africa and Merisa in Sudan. In Ethiopia, the type of millet teff ( Eragrostis tef ) is the most important food crop of the people. Industrial millet is used by some breweries specialized for the production of gluten -free beer for people with gluten intolerance ( celiac disease). In China, a number of spirits are made ​​from millet burned, the baijiu are called, the most famous Chinese liquor Maotai millet.

Industrial use

For industrial use, is primarily the sorghum of interest. In addition to the seeds and the straw is used for production of natural fibers ( millet ) in it.

In the U.S., high hopes for the switchgrass be set as a supplier of cellulosic ethanol. The sorghum is considered as promising energy crop for biogas production, especially in dry layers due to the large and carbohydrate-rich biomass.

Use history

The two oldest finds of proso millet in Germany ( near Leipzig and circle Hadersleben ) date from the time of the Linear Pottery Culture ( Altneolithikum 5500-4900 BC). In antiquity and the Middle Ages were the different kinds of millet to most cultivated crops. Excavations in Central and Northern Germany ( 1st century - 3rd AD) is also of millet cultivation in the pre-Roman Iron Age ( Hallstatt and La Tène - ) as well as the Roman period occupied. In the early modern period they were almost completely replaced in Europe by the import of potato and corn. In the Himalayan region, a weak alcoholic beer is brewed from different varieties. Guests of Attila the Hun was only enough millet. To strengthen the health and strength, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras recommended the millet.

Economic Importance

Worldwide a total of 101.1 million tonnes of millet were produced in 2008 according to the FAO. Of this total, 65.5 million tonnes to 35.6 million tonnes and sorghum millet on Millethirsen. The produced millet was processed mainly for Breinahrung and feed. The yield per hectare is the average, 12 dt / ha ( Millet: 9.5 dt / ha, sorghum: 14.6 dt / ha) of all cereals the slightest. This is one of the reasons why the much higher-yielding corn is becoming more popular in the traditional millet growing areas. However, sorghum has the great advantage over corn that the crop itself in very bad weather almost never fails completely.