Cultivation of Pigeon Pea (Red Gram); Cajanus cajan

Cultivation of  Pigeon Pea (Red Gram); Cajanus cajan
Arhar is commonly known as red gram or pigeon pea it is one of the most primitive cultivated crops of this country. Arhar is the second most important pulse crop in the country after the gram. Arhar Crop cultivation has about 11.8 % share of the total pulse production area and about 17 % share of the total pulse production of the country. Arhar is one of the richest sources of protein and provides a major share of the protein requirement of the vegetarian population of the country. Arhar is mainly consumed in the form of the split pulse as ‘Dal: The Seeds of arhar are also a rich source of iron, iodine, and some of the essential amino acids like glycine, tyrosine, cysteine, and arginine.

The outer covering of arhar crop seed together with part of the kernel provides valuable feed for milch cattle. The husk of pods and leaves obtained during threshing constitute a valuable cattle feed. Woody parts of the plant are used for fuel. It is a legume crop and, consequently, possesses valuable properties as a restorer of nitrogen to the soil

Climatic Requirements for Pigeon Pea or Red Gram ;

Arhar grows well in warm tropical and subtropical climates. The crop prefers a fairly moist and warm climate during the periods of its vegetative growth. During the flowering and ripening stages of its growth, it requires bright sunny weather for the setting of fruits. It is highly susceptible to frost at the time of flowering. Cloudy weather and excessive rainfall at the flowering time damage the crop to a great extent.

Soil  Requirement for Pigeon Pea Cultivation;

1) Arhar may be grown well, on a wide range of soils varying from sandy loams to clay loams
2) It does best on fertile and well-drained loamy soils. 
3) The saline-alkaline and waterlogged soils are unfit for its cultivation, as they adversely affect modulation. 
4) Well-drained, alluvial and loamy soils are good for its cultivation. 
5) It is successfully grown in black cotton soils of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra with proper drainage.
6) It grows well in well-drained red clay loam soils too.

Varieties of Arhar / Pigeon Pea /Tur;

Extra Early
120-130 Days
UPAS-120, Pant A3, Prabhat, ICPL 87 ( Pragati ), ICPL- 151 (Jagriti )
Med. Early
140-160 Days
Pusa Ageti, T-21, HY2, Pusa 84, CO1, Pusa 2002,
Med. duration
HY1, HY3A, HY5, AS71-37, BDN 1, S20 , Asha (ICPL87119),
Late Duration
200< days
C11, D 1258, Bahar, Laxmi (Kanke 3), Guwaliar 3 , Narendra 1(NDA-88-2), Malviya (MA-6)

Rotations and Mixed Cropping  ;

The practice of mixed cropping of arhar with companion crops like jowar maize, ragi, kakun, urd, moong, cowpea, and groundnut is very common. Being deep-rooted, the crop is very well suited for mixed cropping and intercropping with the shallow-rooted ones.

Mixed cropping besides offering insurance against failure of the crop due to disease, pests, and frost, enables the farmers to obtain a variety of crops of their needs from the same piece of land.
The crop is generally grown with wide-row spacings. However, the initial growth is quite slow and the grand growth period starts after 60-70 days of sowing.
Due to a lot of inter-row spaces, therefore, more space remains vacant during the early stages and gets infested by weeds. The space between the rows could be profitably utilized by growing short-duration crops such as urd, moong, cowpea, etc. Intercropping with urd, moong, and cowpea gives about 4-7 quintals per hectare additional yield without affecting the yield of arhar.
Short-duration arhar /Tur / Pigeon pea fits well with the following rotations:
1. Arhar-wheat
2. Arhar-late potato
3. Arhar-lentil
4. Arhar-sugarcane
5. Arhar-wheat-moong 

Field Preparation for Pigeon Pea or Red Gram  ;

Arhar responds well to properly tilled and well-drained seedbeds. Deep ploughing with soil turning plough followed by two to three cross harrowings and proper leveling should be given to ensure uniform irrigation and proper drainage. Being a deep-rooted crop, it requires a deep and well-pulverized field that is free from weeds and clods. Planking should follow each ploughing

Seed and Sowing Pigeon Pea or Red Gram;

Treat the seed with Captan or Thiram at the rate of 3 g per kg of seed before sowing.
Arhar should be sown in the first fortnight of June with pre-sowing irrigation, so that the succeeding crop can be sown with the least delay.
1) Late-sown crop is more likely to be damaged by frost in northern parts of the country. Early sowing helps in taking a good wheat crop after arhar.2)  Under rainfed conditions sowing could be done with the onset of monsoon in the later part of  June or early July.3) Seed should be sown behind the plough or with the help of a seed drill at a row spacing of 60- 75 centimeters keeping a 15-20 centimeter distance from the plant to plant.4) A seed rate of 12-15 kg per hectare is sufficient. In mixed cropping, the seed rate is adjusted according to the proportion of arhar and companion crops to be grown. In the intercropping seed, the rate remains the same as for pure crops.
Manures and Fertilizers ;

One of the important reasons for the poor yield of arhar is that its fertilization aspect is generally neglected. As a matter of fact, this crop is not manured at all. However, this crop is a heavy feeder on the soil nutrients, hence care should be taken to ensure that this crop does not suffer from a lack of nutrients.

Nitrogen ;
1) Being a leguminous crop, it utilizes atmospheric nitrogen through symbiotic nitrogen fixation with the help of nodule bacteria to meet a major part of its nitrogen requirements under normal conditions.
2) The nitrogen nutrition of arhar, therefore, is dependent upon the effectiveness of symbiosis to a great extent.
3) The efficacy of symbiosis can vary not only depending upon the strains of nodule bacteria but also with the variations in soil conditions including soil fertility which would affect both macro-symbiont (pulse) and micro-symbiont (Rhizobium).
4) Research have revealed that arhar crop may not be able to attain maximum growth and yield if it is made to feed on symbiotically fixed nitrogen alone.
5) Even if effective nodulation is ensured by adequate inoculation, there may be a need for some quantity of fertilizer nitrogen to serve as a starter dose for a few weeks of the initial crop growth.
6) On soils deficient in nitrogen, there may be a need for 20-30 kg nitrogen per hectare as a starter dose for arhar crop.
This would take care of the need of the crop in the early stages of growth when nodule formation is going on.
7) Once the nodules are fully developed, these plants are able to meet their nitrogen requirements from symbiotic nitrogen fixation.
8) Farmyard manure should be used wherever it is available. It increases the water-holding capacity of light soils besides supplying plant nutrients, thereby increasing yield.
1) Application of phosphorus and potassium should be done on the basis of soil test values.
2) In case of phosphorus is applied on poor soils, it would result in a conspicuous increase in the yield of arhar.
3) About 80-100 kg phosphate per hectare would be needed on soils poor in available phosphorus.
4) Similarly, on potassium deficient soils, about 40 to 60 kg potash per hectare may be applied for a good yield of arhar.
5) These fertilizers have to be placed as a sideband before sowing to be most effective.
Pulses are known to be very susceptible to zinc deficiency and zinc-deficient plants show stunted growth, reduced leaf size, yellowing and development of brown spot on the leaves.

  • The soils deficient in zinc should get zinc sulphate at the rate of 20 kg per hectare at the time of sowing.
  • Zinc deficiency in the standing crop can be rectified by spraying 5 kg zinc sulphate and 2.5 kg lime dissolved in 800-1000 liters of water per hectare.
Water Management ;

1) Being a deep-rooted crop, it can tolerate drought.
2) Crops planted in June, one or two pre-monsoon irrigations should be given as per requirement.
3) After the start of the monsoon, there is no need for irrigation but in case of prolonged drought during the reproductive period of growth, one or two irrigations may be needed.
4) A pre-requisite for the success of arhar is proper drainage.
Ridge planting is effective in areas where sub-surface drainage is poor. This provides enough aeration for the roots during the period of excess rainfall.
5) During the rainy season, water should not stand anywhere in the field.

Weed Control in Pigeon Pea (Red Gram) ;

1) During the rainy season, weeds pose a serious problem.
2) These weeds rob the crop of precious nutrients and moisture and also give shelter to insect pests.
3) The period of the first 60 days is very critical in the life cycle of the plants of arhar.
4) Two mechanical weedings, one at 25-30 days and another at 45-60 days after sowing give excellent weed control.
5) The pre-emergence application of prometryn (Gesgard® or Caparol® a.i. 1.25 kg ha- 1) effectively controlled the initial weeds and keeps the field free from the weeds for the first 50 days.
6) The other pre-emergence herbicides effective for pigeon pea are pendimethalin (Stomp® a.i. 1.0-1.5 kg ha- 1) or meta chlore (Dual® a.i. 1 kg ha-1) 

Diseases Management of Arhar;



This disease is caused by a fungus, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. udum, which survives in the offseason on plant trashes in the soil.
The leaves of the affected plants become yellowish in colour, then drop and finally the whole plant dry out. These types of symptoms can be easily confused with shortage of moisture in the soil though there is plenty of moisture in the soil where these symptoms develop. The disease, in fact, can be diagnosed by seeing the black streaks on the wood after removing the outer epidermal strip from the major roots.
Control Measures ;
It is difficult to control the disease due to the soil-borne nature of the causal fungus. However, its incidence can be reduced considerably by taking certain precautions. These include following a three to four year crop rotation, taking a mixed crop of jowar and arhar, and collecting and burning the plant traces left after harvesting. The best control is to plant disease-resistant varieties.

2) STEM ROT ; 

Stem Rot of Arhar

This disease is caused by the fungus Phytophthora dreschsleri var. cajani.
The disease-affected plants show the formation of brown to dark brown lesions on the stems near the soil surface. These lesions rapidly girdle the whole stem because of which the plant starts drying. It may be noted that the symptoms can be confused with symptoms of the wilt disease. But this disease can be differentiated from wilt by examining the roots which remain healthy in this case. Also, plants affected by stem rot can not be easily pulled out. They break at the affected stem position whereas wilt-affected plants are easy to pull out.
Control Measures ;
(1) This disease can be controlled by planting resistant varieties.
(2) There should be good drainage in the field and the plants should be protected from stem injury.




Several types of cankers are found on the red gram. These are caused by fungi like Dilopdia cajani, Colletotrichum cajani, and Macrophome cajanicola.
The disease-affected plants show the formation of cankers on stems and twigs. The plant parts may break at such places.
Control Measures ;
In case of the severe intensity of this disease, the crop should be sprayed with Dithane M-45 at the rate of 3 kg per hectare. Suitable crop rotation should be followed if the cankers are a problem in the same field every year.


It is caused by the sterility mosaic virus. It is an important disease of arhar. The virus is spread from plant to plant under field conditions through Eriophyid mites.
The affected plants become light greenish in color which can be easily differentiated from dark green healthy plants. Leaves are reduced in size. Affected plants remain stunted and branch profusely, as a result of which they appear bushy. No flowers and fruits are borne on such affected plants resulting in a total loss of yield. Sometimes only a few branches in the plant are affected others remain healthy. In such cases the yield reductions are partial. The virus is not seed-borne.
Control Measures
(1) Plant-resistant varieties.
(2) Control mites by spraying 0.1% Metasystox. Start spraying as soon as the first affected plants are seen in the field. Three to four sprays are needed to control the mites.

 Management of Insect Pests in Arhar Crop;

Arhar crop is attacked by a number of insect pests. The important ones are given below:



This is widely distributed and is the most injurious pest of early and medium-maturing varieties. The larvae, after hatching, feed on tender leaves and twigs but at pod formation, they puncture pods and feed on developing grains. The caterpillars are green with dark brown-grey lines along the sides of the body.

It is an important pest of arhar causing more severe damage in medium and late-maturing types. The eggs are laid in tender pods. As the larvae grow and feed on the seeds, the damage becomes more conspicuous and distinct. Stripes can be seen on the surface of the affected grains, while the attacked pods are somewhat twisted or deformed. In case of severe damage. as many as 80 percent of pods and 60 percent of grains may be damaged.


“This is a serious pest of arhar. The larvae damage seeds as well as cause flowers, buds, and pods to drop. The caterpillar is greenish-brown in color and fringed with short hairs and spines. It also enters into the pod and feeds on developing grains.


Three species of hairy caterpillars may cause damage to the early crop of arhar by eating away the green water of the leaves. The adult moth these caterpillars lay eggs in large clusters and the young larvae are also congregated. The red hairy caterpillar may damage the crop at the seedling stage.
Control Measures
Collect and destroy the eggs and young larvae. The young caterpillars can also be killed by dusting 10% BHC at the rate of 25-30 kg per hectare. For full-grown caterpillars spray Endosulfan 35 EC at the rate of 1.5 liters in 1000 liters of water per hectare.


 The adults and nymphs of this green hopper suck the juice from the leaves. Generally, the insect sucks sap from the lower surface of the leaves but also occasionally from the upper surface. As a result of sucking the sap, the leaves turn brown and curl from the edge. In severe cases, they show symptoms of “hopper burn’ and ultimately dry up. 

It is a sporadic type of pest. The larva enters into the stem and causes plants to wilt or young plants to die. In case of severe infestation, there may be considerable damage.



It is an important pest of arhar. It avoids sunlight and causes more damage during dusk and night. It hides under debris and loose soil during the day time. The adult beetle stipples the leaves with small and more on less circular holes. In severe cases, the leaf area is very much destroyed on account of feeding by the beetles and this adversely affects the vigour and growth of the plant.

Integrated Pest Management of Arhar / Tur/ Pigeon pea  (IPM ) ;

Mixing up the sorghum or maize seeds 250gms./hac it will help not only to conserve the natural enemies of the crop but also act as a live Bird perches

  • Deep ploughing during the summer
  • Mechanical collection of the grown-up larva and blister beetle
  • Apply the Ha NPV @ 250 lit/hectare
  • Pheromone trap can be installed @ 5 per hectare

Apply any one of the following insecticides:

Azadirachtin 0.03 % WSP 2500-5000 g/ha

  • Bacillus thuringiensis serovar kurstaki (3a,3b,3c) 5%WP1000-1250 g/ha
  • Dimethoate 30% EC 1237 ml/ha
  • Emamectin benzoate 5% SG 220 g/ha
  • Indoxacarb 15.8% SC 333 ml/ha
  • Chlorantraniliprole 18.5 SC 150ml/ha
  • Spinosad 45%SC 125-162 ml/ha
  • Soil application of carbofuran 3G @ 15 kg/ha at sowing for Stem Fly
  • NSKE 5% twice followed by triazophos 0.05%
  • Apply Neem insecticide 1500 ppm@2000 ml/ha
  • Phosalone 0.07%

(Spray fluid 625 ml/ha) Note : Insecticide / Ha NPV spray

Harvesting and Threshing ;

  1. The best time to harvest the crop is when a large percentage of the pods is mature, probably two-thirds to three-fourths of pods turn brown.
  2. The plants are usually cut with a ‘gandasa’ or sickle within 7.5 to 25 centimeters above the ground.
  3. The harvested plants should be left in sun for drving and then threshing should be done by beating the pods with sticks. Pullman thresher could be utilized for this purpose.
  4. The proportion of seeds to pods is generally 50 to 60 percent.
  5. Threshed and cleaned produce should be further sundried so that the grain moisture content may be reduced to 10-11 percent. At this stage, the produce can be stored safely for further use.



With the use of improved technology, Arhar may yield about 20-25 quintals of grain and 50-60 quintals of sticks per hectare.

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