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CROP : RAGI (Eleusine coracana)

Annual grass; culms erect, laterally flattened, 60-120 cm tall or long, profusely tillering, in addition to branches sent out at the rounded nodes in succession, plants often lodged or prostrate; root system fibrous and remarkably strong, permeating soil thoroughly, inflorescence a whorl of 2-8 (normally 4-6), digitate, straight, or slightly curved spikes 12.5-15 cm long, about 1.3 cm broad; spikelets about 70, arranged alternately on rachis, each containing 4-7 seeds, varying from 1-2 mm in diameter; caryopsis nearly globose to somewhat flattened, smooth or tugose, reddish-brown to nearly white or black.
Seeds should have minimum 80%germination and must be free from seed borne pathogens
Ragi is suited for cultivation in areas with annual rainfall of 700-1200 mm. It does not tolerate heavy rainfall and requires a dry spell at the time of grain ripening. It grows well in altitudes of 1000-2000 m with average temperature of 27 ºC. Ragi is cultivated mostly in red lateritic soils. Relatively fertile and well drained soils are the most suitable.


Ragi is not a season bound crop and hence can be cultivated throughout the year, if moisture is available. It is usually grown during the following seasons.

Main season: June-September
Late season: July-October
Summer: Dec-Jan to March-April

PR-202, K-2, Co-2,Co-7,Co-8,Co-9,Co-10
Seed rate
Direct sown crop: 5 kg/ha
Transplanted crop: 4-5 kg/ha

Spacing: 25 x 15 cm

Preparation of nursery
Prepare the nursery field to a fine tilth. Incorporate FYM/compost at 5 t/ha and form beds and channels. Sow seeds uniformly on the beds and cover by stirring the soil. Apply carbaryl 10% on the edges of the beds against ants. One week before uprooting seedlings, apply ammonium sulphate @ of 1 kg per 100 m2. A nursery area of 480 m2 is necessary to raise seedlings for one hectare. Transplant the seedlings when they are three weeks old.

Preparation of main field and manuring
Plough the Main field field 3-4 times and incorporate FYM or compost.


Irrigate the field on the day of transplantation. Irrigation at weekly intervals increases growth rate and yield.
Incorporate FYM or compost. at 5 t/ha. Apply N, P2O5 and K2O @ 22.5 kg/ha each before sowing or planting. Topdress N at 22.5 kg/ha 21days after sowing or planting.
Weeding should be done three weeks after sowing and completed before top dressing
Plant Protection
For controlling grasshoppers, spray carbaryl 50% WP at 1.2 kg/ha. The pink stem borer, which causes dead heart symptoms, is often serious in the early stages of the crop. Insecticidal control is not needed for mild to moderate levels of infestation. In serious cases, spray 0.1% fenthion, or fenitrothion.
For controlling blast, spray ediphenphos at 250 ml/ha or mancozeb at 750-1000 g/ha.

Ragi matures 3-5 months after sowing, depending on variety, season and soil properties. Harvest the crop when the ears are yellowish brown. Heap the harvested ears and cover the heaps with ragi straw for 2-3 days before threshing.
Rainfed crops are cut close to ground, stalks are allowed to wither for a day or two in field, and then bundled and stacked before threshing. To separate the grains, dried earheads are beaten with sticks, sheaves are trodden by bullocks or crushed by stone rollers. Separated grains are winnowed and cleaned. Under irrigated conditions, crop is harvested about 3.5 months after transplanting. Earheads are gathered when they ripen; three or four pickings are usually required to collect all earheads from a field. These are heaped up, and when dry, threshed. Straw from irrigated plants is coarse and thick and is rarely cut. It is grazed down or sometimes turned under as manure for next crop.


Seed yield is 5 MT/ha. Ragi grain possesses excellent storage properties and is said to improve in quality with storage. Seed can be stored without damage for as long as 50 years. They are highly valued as a reserve food in times of famine. Yield depends on variety and is directly related to duration, height and tillering capacity of type grown. Types with straight spikes give better yields than those with curved spikes. Ragi is the principal cereal crop for many peoples in India, Sri Lanka, and East Africa. In India over 2.5 million hectares are cultivated annually. Although it does not enter international markets, it is a very important cereal grain in areas of adaptation.

KISSAN Kerala Operations Centre, IIITM-K, NILA, Techno park Campus, Thiruvananthapuram
Last Updated on: May 27, 2004 9:49 AM

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