Monday, July 12, 2010

Pigeon pea (Red gram, Thuvarai in Tamil) production technology

Dear friends,

I have given below a brief account of pigeon pea cultivation practices as recommended by 'ICRISAT' (International Crop Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics). In the second part of this same article, my actual cultivation experience of pigeon pea is explained in detail.

I. Pigeon pea (Red gram, Thuvarai in Tamil) production Practices:

  • Native plant of India.
  • It's drought tolerance and the ability to use residual moisture during the dry season makes it an important crop.
  • It is a slow growing crop mainly cultivated in the raining season.
  • When cultivated in fertile soils with proper irrigation the plants attain 3 -4 m height.
  • At a wider spacing it may form a bush and at narrow spacing it remains compact and upright.
  • Root nodules of 'Rhizobia' forms on the root system.
  • Pigeon pea is sensitive to water logging. So, plant them in well drained soil for good root and nodule development.
  • Before sowing at least two ploughing is necessary. Summer ploughing helps in minimizing the weed and to conserve moisture.
  • Cultivation in ridges and furrows system is recommended.

  • Sowing Depth: 4 to 5 cm.
  • Response to Nutrients:
  • Effect of Nitrogen is almost negligible. However a starter application of 25 kg of N / ha is beneficial.
  • Response to 'P' application has been positive. Application of 17 -26 kgs / ha increases yield by 300-600 kgs/ha.
  • Pigeon pea does not respond to K application unless it is grown on low Potassium available soils.
  • Most of the pigeon pea cultivars are susceptible to Zinc deficiency. So foliar application of 2-4 ppm of Zinc Sulphate @ 0.5% with 0.25 % lime have been effective.
  • NPK requirement: 20 : 17 : 17
  • It is observed that rhizobial inoculation increase the grain yield from 19 to 68%.

  • Irrigation at the time of flower initiation and pod setting are essential. The drought stress symptoms are indicated by the leaves pointing towards the sun at noon.
  • Excessive moisture promotes vegetative growth. Proper irrigation increases the seed yield by about 150 - 160% over the non-irrigated control at ICRISAT.
  • HARVEST: It should be harvested when 80% of the pods become brown.
II. My actual cultivation experience of pigeon pea:
  • Initially, ICRISAT's 'ICPL 87119'- a bold seed variety was sown. But heavy monsoon rains badly affected the seeds and only about 20% germination rate was observed. Gap filling for the remaining 80% is not feasible, so destroyed all the plants by ploughing and opted for a fresh crop.
  • Next variety selected: ICPL 85063.
  • Area : 3 acres.
  • Field preparation: Ridges and furrows.
  • Spacing: Row to Row - 2.5 feet on ridge slope. (Actual spacing requirement for the plant is 3 feet. Do not reduce the spacing in fertile soils with irrigation facility. The ICRISAT's recommendation of 70 cm spacing is for dry lands.
  • Spacing: Plant to plant - 2 feet. (ICRISAT's recommendation of 20cm - 30cm is too narrow. Better go for above 1.5 feet - 2 feet spacing to avoid overcrowding. In my experience, I got more grain yield from sparsely populated areas. Please note that, at a wider spacing the plant will grow as a bush and at narrow spacing it remains compact and upright.)
  • Seed requirement: If you sow single seed per pit, about 4 kgs (approx.) of seeds may be required for a spacing of 75cm x 60cm and if you opt for 2 seeds per pit then about 8 kgs (approx.) of seeds will be required. The quantity of seed requirement will also vary depending upon the size and weight of selected seed variety.

About 1000 plants were raised in plugtrays / protrays for gap filling.

Presoaking of Seeds: Soaking the seeds in good water for 6 hours before sowing is an essential activity.

Seed Treatment: Since the procured seeds were already treated with the chemical fungicide 'Thiram', seed treatment using 'Rhizobium' was not done. So 'Rhizobium' was broadcasted over the field.

Inter crop:
Black gram in a single row on opposite side of the red gram sown ridge.
Intercrop duration: 90 days.
Deweeding: A total of 5 manual deweeding was done.
Basal :

  • FYM 5 Tons per Acre broadcasted before first ploughing..
  • Rhizobium 1 kg + Azosphyrillum 2 Kgs + Phosphobacterium 2 kgs + Viridi 500 gms were thoroughly mixed with FYM 50 Kgs and broadcasted over an acre before I irrigation.
  • 2 Kgs of Micronutrient Mixture for Pulses (M.N. mixture No:VII in Tamilnadu) mixed with 20 kgs of sand per acre was broadcasted before III irrigation.

  • Maturity / Age: 160 - 180 days.
  • Irrigation: To arrest the vegetative growth of the plant, irrigation was stopped by 140 th day to induce flowering.
  • After flowering, controlled irrigation was provided enabling the pods to get filled up.
  • Fertilisers:N:P:K applied was 46:32:32 against the ICRISAT recommended dosage of 20:17:17.
  • Top dressing of M.N Mixture 5 kg per acre on 60th day.
  • Foliar application of Zn So4 two times.

Pest Control:
Steps to control Pod borer attack.
  • Used 'Phremon traps' / 'Lures' of 'Helicoverpa armigera' @ 10 per acre at the time of flowering and changed them after 45 days with fresh ones.
  • Foliar spray of Bacillus thuringiensis (B.T, Brand: HALT) @ 4%/litre - 3 applications with a gap of 15 days between each spray.
  • Released 'Trichogramma Kilonis' an egg parasite @ 3 cc per acre (15 strips of eggs) - 3 times with a gap of 15 days between each one.

  • Harvesting procedure (Conventional): Cut the stem at the base ==> bundle the plants ==> shift them to thrashing floor ==> bundles to be stacked in upright position for 2-3 days for effective drying and fall of leaves ==> beat the dry plants with sticks ==> remove dusts and collect seeds.
  • Using Mechanical thrasher: By using "All purpose mechanical Thrashers", one can reduce the cost of harvesting expenses considerably.
  • Yield attained: Total yield 2115 Kgs in 3 acres (i.e) 705 Kgs per acre.
  • Yield attained from the inter crop 'Blackgram': 140 Kgs per acre

  • Gross income per acre: Pigeon pea: Kgs.705 x Rs 36 = 25380
  • Gross income from Black gram:Kgs.140 x Rs 42 = 5880

  • Total income from Pigeon pea and Black gram: Rs.31300

  • Expenses per acre:Rs. 9800 approx.
(About 50% of this expense was incurred in harvesting and for manual cleaning. I was not able to get the mechanical thrasher at the time of harvest, though it had been booked well in advance. If I had got the mechanical thrasher in time, I would have minimized the harvesting expenses and the total expenses would be around Rs.7000 only)
  • Net income per acre from both main crop and inter crop: Rs. 21500 (Rd) in a period of 6 months.
Please note that organic practices were adopted for pest control and chemical fertilizers were used to attain the recommended N:P:K level.

I have learned a very good lesson from this crop and I will be more happy if our dear farmers took a balanced view of the recommendations to attain more yield and mechanize the farming activity to get more profits.

Please have a look at one more interesting post on Pigeon Pea (Red gram / Thuvari) by me at this LINK  (Second Green Revolution and Dismal Pulses production in India) before leaving out of this page.
Vishnu Sankar.

6 Comentários:

Anonymous said...

That's a nice post on Thuvarai.
I am a city dweller interested in natural farming in my 29 cents of land. Currently I've sown paddy and in January I'll go in for Thuvarai with black gram inter-crop. But I am not interested in chemical farming and so I'll just sow and wait for nature to take its own course.

Vishnu Sankar said...

Readers are requested to also refer an article in S & T » Agriculture section in The Hindu daily dated October 19, 2011:

'Transplanting redgram under rainfed farming'

in the link:

Asokan said...

from: Asokan
Posted on: Oct 25, 2011 at 13:18 IST in THE HINDU (Comment for the article:Transplanting redgram under rainfed farming)

In my opinion,
Major pest occurs in Redgram is Pod borer and at present wilt and sterility mosaic infestation is found in every redgram field.
If at all these pest and diseases are controlled, redgram productivity can not be increased.
Hence a suitable Redgram variety(resistant to these pest and diseases) or 100% control measure for these pest and disease should be evolved.
This is the only alternative to increase redgram productivity.

Vishnu Sankar said...

The article published in The Hindu and discussed above is very interesting.

Major pests like Pod borers can be managed easily. Productivity can be considerably increased by maintaining plant population and by stringently adopting IPM, IDM, INM practices.

Harvesting Red gram is the other major impediment in realizing profits. Mechanization in sowing and harvesting is the need of the hour.

Nowadays 'Tropiculator' is found to be very effective in sowing and for de-weeding. Combined harvesters fitted with meshes for red gram separation during thrashing should be popularized.

Thank you,

A.Vishnu Sankar said...

‘Bridge gap between potential and actual yield in red gram' - An article published in The Hindu on

Unknown said...

dear mr Vishnu sanker planning to grow red gram in our places, around 500 acres cultivation. we need some details from u. please quide me . my email id ;

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