Cultivation of Lentil ( Massor ); Lens culinaris


Cultivation of Lentil (Lens culinaris )

 Lentil is one of the important Rabi pulses. It has the potential to cover the risk of dryland agriculture. It is also used as a cover crop to check the soil erosion in problem areas. It is mostly eaten as ‘dal’ in the form of Masoor (split) ki daal /Malka ki Daal ( Whole) 

In its, processing process the pulse is first converted into a split pulse or ‘dal by the removal of the skin and the separation of the fleshy cotyledons and  these are deep orange-red or orange-yellow in colour. Whole pulse grain is also used in some other dishes also. It cooked very easily and easily digestible that is why it is preferred to feed patients too. The dry leaves and stems, empty pods and broken bits all are used as cattle feed. Lentil contains about 11 per cent water, 25 per cent protein and 60 per cent carbohydrates. It is also rich in calcium, iron and niacin.

 The valleys in the Hindukush mountains in India have claimed as its native home and Its cultivation dates back to pre-historic times in these regions. It was later introduced in Europe, Africa and America,

In India lentil is mostly grown in northern plains, central and eastern parts of India. It is grown in about 14 lakh hectares area in India and the major lentil producing areas are situated in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. UP contribute 45% share of the total lentil production of the country.

Climatic Requirements for Lentil Cultivation ;

  • Lentil requires a cold climate. It is sown as a winter season crop. 
  • It is very hardy and can tolerate frost and severe winter to a great extent.
  •  Its range of cultivation in regards to climate is very wide. 
  • It can be grown successfully up to a height of 3000 metres. Unlike gram, it remains unaffected by rain at any stage of its growth, including flowering and fruiting. 
  • It can be grown with the moisture conserved in the soil during the rainy season. 
  • It requires cold temperature during its vegetative growth and warm temperature at the time of its maturity. The optimum temperature for growth is 18-30°C.

Important Varieties for Lentil Cultivation;


Lentil Varieties


Pant L 406, PL 639, Mallika (K-75), NDL 2, WBL 58, HUL 57, WBL77, Arun (PL 777-12)

M. P. & C.G

Malika (K-75), IPL-81 (Nuri), JL-3, IPL-406, L-4076, IPL316, DPL 62 (Sheri)



Malika (K-75), IPL-81 (Nuri), JL-3, IPL-406, L-4076, IPL316, DPL 62 (Sheri)



Pant L-639, Pant L-4, DPL-15 (Priya), Sapna, L-4147, DPL-62 (Sheri), Pant L-406


JL 3, IPL 81 (Nuri), Pant L 4


PL-639, LL-147, LH-84-8, L-4147, IPL-406, LL-931, PL 7

Uttar Pradesh

PL-639, Malika (K-75), NDL-2, DPL-62, IPL-81, IPL-316, L4076, HUL-57, DPL 15



IPL 406 (Anguri), Pant L-8 (PL-063), DPL-62 (Sheri)


Soil Requirement for Lentil Cultivation ;

  • Lentil crop can be grown on a variety of soils such as light loams and alluvial soils of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh and black cotton soils of Madhya Pradesh.
  •  This crop is also suited to the poorer types of soils, low-lying situations such as in paddy fields and even to soils of moderate alkalinity. 
  • Well-drained, loam soils with neutral reaction are best for lentil cultivation. Acidic soils are not fit for growing lentils.

Rotations and Mixed Cropping in Lentil Cultivation ;

Lentil is grown generally after the harvest of Kharif crops or as the sole crop of the year. The most common rotations are given below:

1. Kharif fallow-lentil (rainfed areas) 2. Paddy-lentil 3. Maize-lentil 4. Cotton-lentil 5. Bajra-lentil 6. Jowar-lentil 7. Groundnut-lentil

Lentil is grown mixed with barley, toria, rape and mustard crops. It is also grown as an intercrop in autumn sugarcane. Two lines of lentil may be sown 30 centimeters apart in the centre of two sugarcane rows. The distance between sugarcane and lentil rows will also be 30 centimeters.

Field Preparation for lentil Cultivation ;

The soil should be made friable and weed-free so that seeding could be done at a uniform depth. On heavy soils, one deep ploughing followed by two to three cross harrowings should be given. In the case of light soils, less tillage is needed to prepare an ideal seedbed. After harrowing, the field should be levelled by giving a gentle slope to ease irrigation. There should be proper moisture in the soil at the time of sowing for proper germination of seeds.

Seed and Sowing of Lentil Crop;

  • Timely planting is the key factor in the full realization of the yield potential of improved varieties of lentil. 
  • Sowing Time; Middle of October is the most suitable time for sowing lentil. Delay in planting causes reduction in yield but the magnitude of reduction is large after 15th November. The reduction in yield could be minimised up to a certain extent by relatively closer spacing and use of higher seed rate.
  •  Sowing should be done in rows 30 centimetre apart. This could be done either by using a ferti-seed drill or by seeding behind desi (country) plough. 
  • Seed Rate; The optimum seed rate for the normal sown crop is 30-40 kg per hectare. Seed rate should be increased to 50-60 kg per hectare in case of late sowing. 
  •  Spacing; Row spacing should also be reduced to 20-25 centimetre in case of the late sown crop. Lentil seeds should be sown at a shallower depth (3-4 centimetre).

Manures and Fertilisers ;

Generally, lentil is grown without fertilisers and manures. Researches have shown that lentil may not be able to attain maximum growth and yield if they are made to feed on symbiotically fixed nitrogen alone, Even if effective nodulation is ensured by adequate inoculation, there may be a need for some quantity of fertiliser nitrogen to serve as a starter dose for a few weeks of the initial growth. It is even more important in poor and sandy soils. 

On soils deficient in nitrogen and phosphorus, quite significant responses to application of starter nitrogen (20-25 kg per hectare) and a moderate level of phosphorus (50-60 kg per hectare) has been obtained. Soil testing, therefore, becomes important to assess the fertility status of the soil. If a soil test is not possible, apply 20-30 kg nitrogen, 50-60 kg Phosphorus per hectare in medium to low fertile soils as basal dressing.

  • Lentils are often grown in rotation with paddy in late sown conditions. In general, paddy fields are deficient in zinc, therefore, it would be worthwhile watching the lentil crop for likely zinc deficiency. 
  • In initial stages of zinc deficiency, the leaflets start falling off. The deficiency can be rectified by spraying a solution of 0.5 per cent zinc sulphate and 0.25 per cent lime at the appearance of early symptoms. 
  • On soils where zinc deficiency is well established, apply about 25 kg zinc sulphate per hectare before final discing of the field so that zinc sulphate is mixed well in the soil.

Water Management;

The crop is mostly grown in unirrigated areas. It can tolerate drought condition to some extent. By providing one to two irrigations particularly when winter rains are not properly distributed, higher yields can be obtained. First irrigation should be given at 45 days of planting and second, if needed, at pod filling stage. More irrigations may affect crop performance adversely.

Weed Control ;

Lentil being slow in growth in early stages suffers adversely from the competition with weeds. The period from 30 to 60 days after sowing is most crucial for competition with weeds. 

The major weeds found in lentil fields are Chenopodium album (bathua), Fumaria parviflora (gajri), Lathyrus spp. (chatri matri), Melilotus alba (senji), Vicia sativa (ankari) and Cirsium aruense (Kateli). 

There is a drastic reduction in yield under heavy infestation. There is, therefore, need to control the weeds at a very right time. A weed-free period of early 43 to 60 days is important. Thereafter, weeds do not survive since the space available between two rows is covered by the crop plants. This could be achieved through mechanical as well as chemical means. 

Two manual weedings, one at 25-30 days and another 45-50 days after sowing should be done. Weedicide like Basalin and Tribunil can be used safely for weed control. Basalin 0.75 kg a.i. per hectare, in 800-1000 litres of water as pre-planting spray may be used as an effective herbicide. It should be well incorporated in the soil before sowing.

Disease and Pest Management of Lentil crop; 

Disease Management ;




Seedling Mortality

caused by fungi. It appears within a month of sowing when the seedlings start drying up. The drying is mainly two types. (Seedling wilt)- Seedling first turns yellow and dry up. Collar rot- The seedling collapse while still green and then dry out

i) It can be reduced by delay planting until mid-November; ii) Treat the seed with systemic fungicide Carbendazim @ 2.5 g/kg of seed; iii) Plant resistant varieties like Pant L-406 etc.


a serious  disease of lentil in which the growth of the plant is checked, the leaves start yellowing, plant start drying and finally, die. The roots of affected plants remain underdeveloped and look light brown in colour.

i) Keep the field clean and follow a three-year crop rotation. This will help in reducing the disease incidence; ii) Use tolerant and resistant varieties likePant Lentil 5, IPL-316, RVL-31, Shekhar Masoor 2, Shekhar Masoor 3 etc; iii) Seed treatment.


The disease symptoms start as yellowish pustules on the leaflets and pods. Later; light brown pustules appear on both the surfaces of the leaves and other aerial parts of the plant. The pustules finally become dark brown. The plants give dark brown or blackish appearance visible as patches in the field.

i) After harvest, the affected plant trash should be burnt; ii) In NEPZ, normal and early sowing reduces the intensity of rust disease; iii) Grow  resistant/tolerant varieties like DPL15, Narendra Lentil-1, IPL 406, Haryana Masur 1, Pant L-6, Pant L-7, LL-931, IPL 316 etc.; iv) Spray the crop with Mancozeb 75 WP@ 0.2 % ( 2g/liter). 1-2 spray at 50 days after sowing is good for controlling rust.

Stemphylium Blight

The disease causes angular tan leaf lesions; when it is humid (early mornings or after rainfall events), diseased leaves may appear grey due to sporulation by the causal pathogen. Diseased leaves often fall from plants, leaving plants defoliated except for the youngest leaves at the top of the plant. Red lentils are generally more  susceptible to the disease than green lentils

i) After harvest, the affected plant trash should be burnt; ii) Spray

the crop with Mancozeb 75 WP@ 0.2 % (2 g/liter). Two sprays may be given at 15 days interval; ii) Grow resistant varieties like Pant L-639, DPL-15, Narendra Lentil1 etc.

Pest Management ;




Pod Borer

The caterpillar defoliates the tender leaves and also bores the green pods and feeds upon the ripening grains. It damages almost all the pods in case of severe damage but causes nearly 25-30% annual yield losses in India.

i) Spray neem seed extract (5%) @ 50 ml/ liter of water; ii) Spray of   Profenphos 50  EC @ 2 ml/ liter or Emammectin benzoate 5 SG @ 0.2 g/ /liter of water.


Aphids suck the sap and in case of severe  damage the growth is suppressed.

i) Spray of Dimethoate 30 EC @ 1.7 ml/liter or Imidacloprid 17.8  SL @ 0.2 ml / liter of water.

Harvesting and Threshing ;

lentil should be harvested when the pods ripe but the plants have not dead rine. The plants should not be allowed to become dead ripe otherwise a large quantity of produce may be lost due to shattering As such, it would be advantageous to harvest in the morning when dew is there 

The produce should be allowed to dry completely on the threshing floor before threshing. Threshing is done either by beating the plants with sticks by trampling under the feet of bullocks. Clean the seed and dry it in the sun to bring the moisture content down to 12% for safe storage.


A well-managed crop yields about 20-25 quintals of grain per hectare.

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