Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cultivation of Red Gram or Tuar Crop

Sowing time/ season

Red gram is grown during June to July. Ideal time for sowing is second week of June to second week of July. Under delayed monsoon conditions it can be sown up to end of August. Red gram sown after 15th July in Maharashtra results low productivity.

Cropping pattern

Red gram is often intercropped with sorghum, pearl millet, maize, sugarcane, soybean/cowpea or cotton either during or in alternate season with main crop. Sowing of one/two lines of red gram after every 4-8 rows of cotton is widely practiced in cotton growing areas. Under organic management, red gram intercropped with soybean/cowpea and Moong have been found to be enriching the soil significantly. This combination can also be used in the first year of conversion of conventional farms to organic for making the soil live and fertile.

Traditional Varieties

Important improved varieties suitable for different region, along with their crop duration are as follows

* Very early maturing (115 to 125 days) – ICPL-87, ICPL-151, TAT-10
* Early maturing (130 to 150 days) – T. Vishakha-1, TT-6, AKT – 8811
* Medium duration (155 to 170 days) – Badnapur-1 or 2, BSMR-736, BSMR-175
* Long duration (above 180 days) – ICPL-87119, C-11

Selection of varieties should be done carefully keeping in mind the water retention capacity of the soil, water availability and irrigation conditions. In case of rain-fed conditions with low to no moisture availability beyond October and poor soils, early maturing varieties (130-150 days) should be preferred over medium and long duration. Market value of the particular variety grain is also important. Kalya Nakya (Black plumule), safed nakya (white plumule) are 2 general categories that fetch more price. “Ganesh”, “Asha”, “Maruti” are few other local varieties.

Seed Selection
In organic farming stress is being given on the on-farm seed production and preservation. For seed purpose identify vigorously growing healthy plants, free from insect pests and diseases. Tag them for easy identification and harvest separately. Collect only healthy pods. Use appropriate grading sieve to obtain uniformity in size and weight of the grains. Drying of seeds in sun is very essential to obtain moisture level below 8%.

Pre-cultivation practices
As red gram is a deep rooted crop, it requires at least one deep tilling up 1 to 1.5 feet and one shallow tilling. Application of 10-20 quintals of well decomposed FYM or 10-12 quintal of enriched compost or 5 to 10 quintal of vermicompost mixed with 5 kg PSB (phosphate solubilizing biofertilizer) during last tilling, when soil is wet is highly beneficial. Apply 500 lit Sanjeevak or Jeevamrut/ha at the time of sowing or immediately after sowing as soil treatment. This ensures ready availability of micro-organisms for better fertility of soil. Plant farm bunds with trees of Neem, Babul, Pongam, Sesban, Gliricidia etc. to get much leaf litter for soil nutrition. Trees also attract birds that control the pests.

Seed Treatment
Treat the seeds with  Trichoderma viridi (8 gm/kg of seed). Dry the seeds in shade. Now again treat the seeds with red gram Rhizobium and PSB biofertilizer (5gm each per kg of seed) and dry the treated seeds in shade. Such treated seeds should be sown with 4-6 hour of treatment. In south Indian states, Panchgavya is being used in place of Beejamrut. Seeds are soaked in diluted Panchgavya for 20 min, dried and then treated with Trichoderma viridi, PSBand Rhizobium.

Seed rate and sowing
 Seeds are sown 4-6 cm deep preferably by drilling, when the soil is wet. Quantity of seed and spacing varies, depending upon the crop variety and its crop duration as follows:

 * Very early maturing –               Monocrop – 20 kg/ha, spacing 120 x 30 cm
 * Early maturing –                        Monocrop – 20 kg/ha, spacing 120 x 30 cm
 * Medium duration –                    Monocrop – 15 kg/ha spacing 60 x 20 cm

                                                          Intercrop –   5kg/ha, spacing 30 x 20

 * Long duration –                        Monocrop – 12 – 15 kg/ha, spacing 60 x 20 cm

                                                          Intercrop –   5 kg/ha, spacing 90 x 20 cm

 According to the biodynamic principle, sowing is preferred around new moon day for better seedling nutrition, as the moon is away from the earth and nutrients concentrate towards roots.

Cropping system

 Mono-cropping of red gram is unsustainable due to more pest-attack, and delayed income. But to reduce pest attack and to ensure intermittent income, in mono-cropping, mix 1-2 % seeds of sorghum or other millet with red gram at the time of sowing. Growing of two rows of Moong after every two rows of red gram is also beneficial. It not only ensures some Moong yield as bonus, but its biomass mulch reduces the growth of weeds, preserves soil moisture and ensures increased productivity of red gram. Leafy vegetable can also be taken as intercrop in between two rows of red gram. Random growth of sorghum or maize plants, act as bird perches and attracts birds and predator insects that control pests. One or two row of marigold around the field or random planting of about 100 marigold plants/acre also helps in control of insects and pests.

Cultural operations

Between 50 and 60 days of germination, the main shoot tip (called as “mother” shoot locally) and the secondary branch tips (secondary shoots, called “daughters”) are pruned. This promotes development of large number of tertiary shoots (called “grandchildren” locally), which bear more number of pods, thus increasing the yield by 30-50%. Grandchildren grow only at the expense of mothers and grandmothers, goes local saying.

Weed Management

Weed management is required only up to 60 days of crop growth, as this is the time when weeds compete with the crop for nutrients. First weeding (hoeing) is to be done at 20-25 days, while second hoeing is done at 50-60 days after sowing. Although some organic farmers are of the opinion that second hoeing damages root system and need to be avoided. Do not throw or burn the uprooted or cut weeds. Leave them there in the field as mulch. Normally no weeding is required after 60 days of crop growth, but in case if it is needed then manual weeding should be done only in alternate rows.

Soil fertility management

* Use of green manure crops is an ideal preposition for soil enrichment. Pre-monsoon shower starts by the end of May. Taking advantage of such showers sprinkle 1-2 kg seeds each of Sunhemp, Sesban, Horse Gram, Cow pea, Green gram and Black gram and allow them to grow for 30 days. Incorporate this green manure crop into the soil by shallow tilling during first week of July and go for red gram sowing after 7-8 days of incorporation. Addition of 5-10 quintal Neem leaf/seed manure has also been found to be beneficial not only in terms of increased nutrient supply, but also in terms of reduced problem of soil borne pathogens and nematodes .
      
Irrigation and water requirement

Red Gram requires 35-40 cm water, during its entire growth period. Optimum moisture is necessary during (a) budding (b) flowering and (c) pod formation stages. As red gram is a rainfed crop grown in assured rainfall areas, usually it does not require any irrigation. If there is water stress, protective irrigation may be given in alternate rows at these 3 stages. Avoid inter culture operations after harvesting of intercrop. Use harvested intercrops' biomass as mulch to preserve soil moisture and to maintain microbial activity.

Important pests and diseases

The eggs of Helicoverpa are round and yellowish green in colour. Larvae emerge from these eggs on warm summer days (at temperature of about 32-33oC), which can grow up to 3.5 to 4 cm in 15-20 days. These larvae voraciously feed on leaves and can eat entire leaf tissue except the veins. A larva can damage up to 20 pods in its life span, before transforming in to pupa. The pupae are brown in colour and up to 1 cm long. Moths emerge from these pupae in about months' time. Moths continue to reproduce year round causing damage to the crops throughout the year except during hot summer. Helicoverpa survives on 181 host plants across different seasons, including cotton and legumes. Red gram is its preferred choice.  Birds and parasitic insects predate on the larva. Other insects grow either earlier or all through the cropping season.

Pod borer or Boll worm (Helicoverpa), aphids, jassids, thrips, mites etc are some of the important insect pests of red gram. Fusarium wilt disease can also be a serious problem in some places. Among them, Boll worm is most damaging and is of major concern.

Pest Life cycle
The eggs of Helicoverpa are round and yellowish green in colour. Larvae emerge from these eggs on warm summer days (at temperature of about 32-33oC), which can grow up to 3.5 to 4 cm in 15-20 days. These larvae voraciously feed on leaves and can eat entire leaf tissue except the veins. A larva can damage up to 20 pods in its life span, before transforming in to pupa. The pupae are brown in colour and up to 1 cm long. Moths emerge from these pupae in about months' time. Moths continue to reproduce year round causing damage to the crops throughout the year except during hot summer. Helicoverpa survives on 181 host plants across different seasons, including cotton and legumes. Red gram is its preferred choice.  Birds and parasitic insects predate on the larva. Other insects grow either earlier or all through the cropping season.

Economical threshold limit (ETL)
About 1-2 caterpillars per sq. m or 5-10 % pod damaged. ETL can be assessed by using the number of insects trapped in pheromone traps, light traps or on yellow traps.

Pest Management
Habitat management and cultural practices
Biodiversity is a key component in keeping the pest's population below ETL. Plant farm bunds with trees of Neem, Babul, Pongam, Sesban, Gliricidia etc. to get much leaf litter. Intercropping of red gram with soybean, Moong, ground nut, sorghum/maize and random planting of marigold and Hibiscus subdariffa (Lal ambari) helps in keeping the pest population under ETL.

 Jaggery powder (10 kg/ ha) is sprayed on the soil surface, to attract ants that predate on larva.

About 10-12 bird perches are installed in one ha attracts birds that predate on the pests. Yellow rice (1 kg rice cooked with turmeric powder) kept on or near perches attract predatory birds.

Inundated release of Chrysoperla 5000 eggs after 15 days of sowing and Trichogramma 50,000 eggs (2-3 cards) after 30 days of sowing can keep the problem of pests below ETL.

Control measures – If the pest exceeds ETL, the following control measures can be adopted:

1. 2-3 Sprays of 5% Neem seed kernel extract (NSKE) at an interval 15 days. NSKE enriched with 5% cow urine has been found to be more effective. The Azadirachtin in the NSKE controls the boll worm and other sucking pests. Alternatively, 20 kg of Neem leaves boiled with 100 liter water can also be used.

1. Alternatively, Garlic, Chili and Neem crushed in cow urine can be sprayed on leaves.


Caterpillars can also be controlled by spraying 500 – 1000 ml HNPV per ha.

Other Pests – Rats rarely infest Red Gram field but wild boar commonly damage it near forest tracts. Fence the farms and spread the cut human hair along the border. When the boars intrude, they inhale the hair, which causes nasal irritation and sniffing. Burning of old leather also keeps the wild boars away.


Harvest

Harvesting is preferred around new moon, in dark night day after crop matures. When most of the leaves are shed and 80% pods turned brown, is the best time for harvest


Yield

15-20 quintal/ ha as rainfed intercrop and 25-30 quintal/ha as irrigated monocrop can be obtained. Very early and early varieties yield 20-30 % less.

Storage Management

Dry clean seeds/ grain in sun to ensure moisture below 8%. Beetles affect red gram in storage. Mix crushed Neem leaves with grain and store in gunny bags. Gunny bags can also be treated with 5% Neem oil.

(Compiled by Harsh Saxena)

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