Proso millet, Panicum miliaceum

Life Cycle



Reproducing only by seed.


Stout, up to 1 m or more high, smooth or somewhat hairy (a) for several cm below each node (b), especially where not enclosed within the leaf sheath.


Leaf sheaths (c) densely hairy, the hairs somewhat harsh and standing more or less perpendicular to the surface; leaf sheaths split, their margins membranous, overlapping just above each node but becoming separate upwards nearer the leaf blade; leaves smooth to sparsely hairy, elongate, to 30 cm or longer, and 5 - 25 mm wide, widest just above the rounded base and tapering towards the tip; ligule (d) a band of hairs 2 - 5 mm long, the bases of the hairs united and more or less membranous; no auricles.

Flowers and Fruit

Panicle either dense and arching or nodding to one side (D) (usually associated with cream-, orange- or reddish-seeded forms) or erect and loose or open (E) (usually associated with black-seeded forms), 8 - 30 cm long; spikelets (e) ovoid, 4 - 5.5 mm long and ½ to 2/3 as wide; seeds 3 - 3.5 mm long by about 1.6 - 2.0 mm wide, hard and usually shiny, varying in colour from white through shades of yellow, orange and brown to black, the darker coloured seeds with 5 parallel beige veins. Flowers from July to September.

Roots and Underground Structures

Fibrous root system.


Proso millet was introduced from Europe. Some forms are cultivated for bird seed and some of these along with other wild forms are major weeds of grain fields in parts of southern Ontario.


Corn yield loss (%)*: 2 % at 1 plant/m2 10 % at 5 plant/m2 Soybean yield loss (%)*: 3 % at 1 plant/m2 12 % at 5 plant/m2 *assumes that the weed has emerged with the crop and has been left uncontrolled all season.

Distinguishing Features

It is distinguished from the very similar Witch grass by its much larger seeds that may vary in colour from white through cream, orange, reddish or brownish-green to black, and by the arching or nodding panicle in some forms (the erect, open-panicled forms usually being larger, coarser and having fewer seeds than Witch grass); and it is distinguished from Fall panicum by its hairy leaf sheaths and its larger spikelets. Seedlings of Proso millet can be distinguished from those of Witch grass only by the size, shape and colour of the mother seed (f) clinging to the primary root.


Proso millet is not known to be toxic.

Human Health Issues

Proso millet is not a known allergen.

Forage Quality

No information exists at this time.

Often Mistaken For

Large crabgrass (DIGSA) and Witch grass (PANCA)

Power Ranking Corn

Power Ranking

↑ 13


Power Ranking Soybeans

Power Ranking

↑ 21


Biological Control

Currently none available for this weed. For the latest research on biological weed control:

Biopesticide Control

Currently none available for this weed.

Herbicide Resistance

No documented cases of herbicide resistance to date. For more information on weed resistance:

Figure #1.

A. Young plant in 6-leaf stage showing the "mother seed" still attached to the primary root. B. Lower portion of flowering plant showing one inflorescence emerging from leaf sheath. C. Leaf-base. D. Dense, arching inflorescence. E. Loose, open inflorescence.

Figure #2.

Ligule: hairy.

Figure #3.

Leaf blade: usually hairless, but can have sparse hairs on upper and lower surfaces.

Figure #4.

Leaf sheath: Extremely hairy, leaf sheath margin is also hairy.

Figure #5.

Seed head.