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Pigeon peas

Pigeon pea growth, harvesting and yields

pigeon peas harvesting yield growing

Pigeon pea growth period and harvesting

The growth period of the pigeon pea varies considerably. Depending on variety pigeon peas will grow 100-300 days. Location, thus local micro climate and sowing date have a significant influence on growth season length. In India most late-maturing varieties take about 240-280 days to produce a seed crop and many of the older early-maturing varieties take about 180 days1)Featured image: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File%3AShelling_pigeonpeas%2C_Kenya.jpg.

Although the pigeon pea is a perennial and may be cropped for 2-3 years, seed yields usually drop significantly after the first year. It is better to treat it as an annual when planting commercially.

Harvest and handling pigeon peas

Harvesting is done by hand. The pods are picked when mature and most of the leaves have dried and shed. The plants are cut down to ground level and tied into bundles. The pods and leaves left after threshing are beaten with sticks and seeds and chaff separated by winnowing. After threshing the seeds are cleaned and thoroughly dried to 10% moisture content. Seeds are stored in earthenware or metal containers, often covered with a layer of sand. Seeds can also be stored in sacks which have been treated with malathion. Pigeon peas are susceptible to insect infestations during storage just like any other seed. Periodic fumigation of storage facility with carbon bisulphate, phosphine, ethylene dibromide or methyl bromide is recommended.

Pigeon pea yields estimated to be less than 1 ton/ha2) Rajeev K Varshney, Wenbin Chen, Yupeng Li, Arvind K Bharti, Rachit K Saxena, Jessica A Schlueter, Mark T A Donoghue, Sarwar Azam, Guangyi Fan, Adam M Whaley, Andrew D Farmer, Jaime Sheridan, Aiko Iwata, Reetu Tuteja, R Varma Penmetsa, Wei Wu, Hari D Upadhyaya, Shiaw-Pyng Yang, Trushar Shah, K B Saxena, Todd Michael, W Richard McCombie, Bicheng Yang, Gengyun Zhang, Huanming Yang, Jun Wang, Charles Spillane, Douglas R Cook, Gregory D May, Xun Xu & Scott A Jackson. Nature Biotechnology volume 30, pages 83–89 (2012) . Under controlled and intensive farming yields of 2.5 ton/ha can be achieved.

The pigeon pea is an important protein food in many tropical areas of India and Africa. In India it is consumed mainly in the form of dhal. In Africa and Indonesia the mature seeds are usually soaked for several hours before being pounded and fried, steamed and eaten as a puree. The fresh green seeds are very popular as a vegetable, especially in the Caribbean where considerable quantities are processed.

The ripe seeds may be germinated similarly to much beans to produce sprouts. Small-seeded pigeon peas are sometimes used for chicken feed, but crushing it is advisable as the seeds are very hard. In Hawaii pigeon peas are used mainly for animal feeding. The green immature pods are sometimes eaten, boiled as a vegetable similar to French beans and used in curries. In some rare cases it is used as forage.

The dried stalks are used for thatching, firewood or for the production of charcoal. The pods, husks and leaves that remain after threshing after production of dhal are used for animal feed. The leaves, flowers and roots are all used in traditional medicine in various countries.

Nutritional value of pigeon peas

Although it lacks the amino acid tryptophan, there is enough other nutrients that makes it important. The nutritional value are as follows:

  • Protein: 17%
  • Fat: 1.6%
  • Fibre: 7%
  • Calcium (Ca): 4.24 mg/100g
  • Iron (Fe):  0.2 mg/100g
  • Vit A: 1.64 mg/100g
  • Amino acids (mg/100g): Threonine: 0.8, Tyrosine: 0.8, Methionine: 0.4, Phenylalanine: 1.8, Isoleucine: 0.5, Leucine: 1.3, Lysine: 1.2

Processing pigeon peas as Dhal

Dahl is prepared by removing the seed-coat and splitting the seed into two cotyledons. This is accomplished by either the wet or dry method. In the dry method the seeds are dried in the sun for 3-4 days. Then they are split in a mill after smearing with vegetable oil in order to soften the husk. In the wet method, the seeds are soaked in water between 6-10 hours. Then mixed with sieved red soil, heaped up and left overnight. The seeds are then spread out, dried in the sun and winnowed to remove the soil before being milled.

Considerable quantities of green, immature pigeon peas are cannin in the Caribbean only.

Pigeon peas cannot be dehydrated due to the thickness and hardness of the seed coat.

Read our next article on planting Pigeon Peas.

References   [ + ]

1. Featured image: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File%3AShelling_pigeonpeas%2C_Kenya.jpg
2. Rajeev K Varshney, Wenbin Chen, Yupeng Li, Arvind K Bharti, Rachit K Saxena, Jessica A Schlueter, Mark T A Donoghue, Sarwar Azam, Guangyi Fan, Adam M Whaley, Andrew D Farmer, Jaime Sheridan, Aiko Iwata, Reetu Tuteja, R Varma Penmetsa, Wei Wu, Hari D Upadhyaya, Shiaw-Pyng Yang, Trushar Shah, K B Saxena, Todd Michael, W Richard McCombie, Bicheng Yang, Gengyun Zhang, Huanming Yang, Jun Wang, Charles Spillane, Douglas R Cook, Gregory D May, Xun Xu & Scott A Jackson. Nature Biotechnology volume 30, pages 83–89 (2012)

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