To date, little research has been conducted on the phenotypic responses of proso millet to drought and deficit irrigation treatments in the dryland wheat-based cropping systems of the Palouse bioregion of the U.S. The objectives of this study were to evaluate critical agronomic traits of proso millet, including emergence, plant height, days to heading, days to maturity, and grain yield, with and without supplemental irrigation. Twenty diverse proso millet accessions, originating from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Morocco, the former Soviet Union, Turkey, and the United States, were grown in irrigated and non-irrigated treatments under organic conditions in Pullman, WA, from 2012 to 2014. Irrigation was shown to significantly improve emergence and increase plant height at stem extension and to hasten ripening of all the varieties, whereas heading date was not affected by irrigation in two of the three years tested. Irrigation resulted in higher mean seed yield across all varieties, with ‘GR 665’ and ‘Earlybird’ performing best under irrigation. Seed yield was highest in ‘GR 658’ and ‘Minsum’ in the non-irrigated treatment, suggesting the importance of identification and utilization of varieties adapted to low rainfall conditions. The highest yielding varieties in irrigated systems are unlikely be the highest yielding in dryland systems. Our results suggest that millet has potential as a regionally novel crop for inclusion in traditional dryland cropping rotations in the Palouse ecosystem, thereby contributing to increased cropping system diversity.
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