The third International Symposium on Broomcorn Millet, organized by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Colorado State University, will be held in Fort Collins August 8-12. The symposium will also include minor crops similar to proso millet, such as foxtail millet, pearl millet, finger millet, and tef, which are currently grown in the U.S. on a small scale.

Broomcorn millet (also known as proso millet, common millet or hog millet) is an ancient crop that originated in China. Countries with significant production include China, Russia, the U.S., Ukraine, India, Slovenia and Korea. In the U.S., three states — Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota — grow more than 95 percent of the crop.

Millet is popular for its tolerance to drought and lack of soil fertility, and its adaptability to adverse environments. This is due to the short growing season it requires along with the need for little water or synthetic fertilizer to achieve decent yields. Many now believe this makes it a perfect crop for a changing climate.

Millet is not only climate-friendly but good for human health. Broomcorn millet is richer in nutrients than most other major cereal crops. It is a source of starchy grain and has a low glycemic index, high fiber and essential minerals, all while being gluten free. It is a common food ingredient in many Asian countries; however, so far in the U.S., it is mostly used as bird feed, not as human food.

The International Association on Broomcorn Millet was established to promote development of the broomcorn millet industry, strengthen exchanges and cooperation in scientific research among various countries and increase socio-economic opportunities. The International Symposium on Broomcorn Millet is held every two years. The first was held in China and the second in South Korea.

The symposium will include academic exchanges, a display of products from around the world and a field tour to a commercial millet farm in Colorado and to UNL’s dryland research station at Sidney. Representatives from around the world are expected to attend, including scientists and entrepreneurs, who will discuss future trends for broomcorn millet development and research.