In Africa millet is usually harvested by hand by picking the panicles or harvesting the whole plant. Harvesting may be done several times, as panicles ripen unevenly in some varieties that produce many tillers. The crop is harvested, when the panicles are fully mature and the plant is nearly dry. To avoid unnecessary grain loss to birds or lodging caused by the storm, the grain should be harvested as soon as seed maturity is reached.
Harvesting and post-harvest handling
When the millet is mature and dry enough for harvesting, the grains pop out cleanly when the head is pinched. At this point, harvesting can commence. Millet is harvested manually using a knife or sickle. The panicles are harvested into baskets or bags and stored on a wooden rack to dry before they are threshed. The stover is also harvested and stored for fodder, however in some cases the millet stalks are left standing in the field and grazed by animals during the dry season.
Proper post-harvest handling of millet aims at maintaining grain quality, minimizing losses and avoiding any contamination risks from extraneous materials and agents. The post-harvest handling process starts with proper and timely harvesting and drying.