Proso millet yield and residue mass following direct harvest with a stripper-header
Proso millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) (PM) is an important crop for dryland rotations in the central Great Plains. The crop is traditionally swathed before combining to promote uniform drying of the panicle and to minimize seed shattering losses. Direct harvesting of PM with a stripper-header would eliminate the swathing operation resulting in cost savings, and increased standing crop residues to enhance erosion protection, snow catch, and precipitation storage efficiency. This study was conducted to determine yield differences between conventionally swathed and stripper-header harvested PM and to compare PM residue mass and orientation following the two harvest techniques. The study was conducted over four growing seasons at Akron, CO. Proso millet was harvested either by swathing and then picking up the swath with a combine, or by direct harvesting with a stripper-header attached to the combine. Seed yields and moisture contents at harvest were not significantly different between treatments. About 20% more seed was found on the ground with the stripper-header harvest than with the conventionally swathed harvest, but the increased shattering resulted in only about 1% loss of the average final yield. Using a stripper-header resulted in both the standing residue mass and the silhouette area index following harvest to be four times greater than in conventionally swathed PM. A stripper-header can be used to successfully direct harvest PM thereby reducing harvest costs and increasing surface crop residues following harvest.