DOI: 10.3390/agronomy13082171 ISSN:

A Brief History of Broomcorn Millet Cultivation in Lithuania

Giedrė Motuzaitė Matuzevičiūtė, Rimvydas Laužikas
  • Agronomy and Crop Science

The eastern Baltic region represents the world’s most northerly limit of successful broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum) (hereafter, millet) cultivation in the past, yet this crop has been almost forgotten today. The earliest millet in the eastern Baltic region has been identified from macrobotanical remains which were directly dated to ca 1000 BCE. Between 800 and 500 BCE, millet was one of the major staple foods in the territory of modern-day Lithuania. Millet continued to play an important role in past agriculture up until the 15th century, with its use significantly declining during the following centuries. This paper analyses both the archaeobotanical records and written sources on broomcorn millet cultivation in Lithuania from its first arrival all the way through to the 19th century. The manuscript reviews the evidence of millet cultivation in the past as documented by archaeobotanical remains and historical accounts. In light of fluctuating records of millet cultivation through time, we present the hypothetical reasons for the decline in millet use as human food. The paper hypothesizes that the significant decrease in broomcorn millet cultivation in Lithuania from the 15th century onwards was likely influenced by several factors, which include climate change (the Little Ice Age) and the agricultural reforms of the 16th century. However, more detailed research is required to link past fluctuations in millet cultivation with climatic and historical sources, thus better understanding the roots of collapsing crop biodiversity in the past.

More from our Archive