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Future trends in pigeonpea crops

New, short-duration pigeonpea varieties may offer farmers increased options for catch crops and rice fallows

Development of short-duration genotypes has increased the possibility of including pigeonpea in multiple cropping systems. Use of these genotypes is likely to increase across all pulses, not just in pigeonpea.

In subtropical environments, short duration genotypes grow very tall and some times mature very late, thereby affecting the prospects of sequential crops. To overcome these limitations, extra short duration (ESDP) genotypes have been developed.

As ESDP genotypes represent relatively new plant types, their agronomic requirements need to be established. Preliminary work at ICRISAT’s centre has indicated that they have a good yield potential.

For environments where the crop matures fast and where presently short season legumes such as cowpea, mung bean and urad bean are grown as catch crops, ESDP genotypes provide an additional choice to the farmers since some of these genotypes mature in 90 days.

Such genotypes can also escape terminal drought stem. Agronomic information for adopting these genotypes to rainfed conditions is lacking; further work needs to be done.

Further expansion of pigeonpea sowing to areas vacated by rice (rice fallows) is possible. For rice fallow conditions, the agronomic requirements for pigeonpea as a sole crop and intercropped with other short season crop are yet to be determined. One of the constraints faced by pigeonpea in rice fallow conditions is that of crop establishment. Since pigeonpea has a slow initial growth rate, the penetrability of roots through the soil is reduced. Identification of genotypes with good seedling vigour could be useful for rice fallows.

Its slow trimital growth is of little advantage when pigeonpea has to be grown as sole crop. There is also a need to develop genotypes that can grown well at mean temperatures below 20 degrees C because pigeonpea growth in the post rainy season is limited by low temperature.

Medium and long duration genotypes will be used in cropping system in foreseeable future; efforts to improve their agronomy do not seem to be making much head way.

For the present it appears that better productivity of these genotypes could be achieved by improving their stability against biotic and abiotic stress.

The possibility of sowing pigeonpea in agroforestry system as a perennial crop, and as a plantation crop needs to be investigated.

Evidence to date suggests that pigeonpea growth is greatly influenced by environmental factors.

There is a need to model crop growth so that it can be predicted in particular environments, and to facilitate determination of optimum sowing dates and plant population to maximise the yield.
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