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Pigeon Pea Growing Information Frances Michaels

Common Name: Pigeon Pea, Congo Pea, Red Gram
Botanical Name:Cajanus cajan syn. Cajanus indicus
Family: Fabaceae
Plant Description: A woody, leguminous shrub, to 3.6 m, with yellow and red flowers.
Ecology: It is hardy, widely adaptable and tolerant of temperatures as high as 35C. It can be killed by heavy frost. An average annual rainfall between 600 and 1,000 mm is most suitable. However, it can be grown in humid areas, even over 2,500 mm of rainfall and is renowned for its drought tolerance. It gives economic yields of seeds in areas where rainfall averages about 400 mm annually. Although it cannot withstand waterlogging it can be grown in a wide range of soils, as it tolerates low fertility. Some cultivars are tolerant of salinity and aluminium. A pH range of 4.5 - 8.4 is tolerated.
  • Food; seeds are 25% protein, can be eaten fresh or as split dried peas, are used for dhal in India, contain 5 times more Vitamin A and C than green peas. The leaves and young shoots can be eaten cooked, they are fibrous and have a strong spicy odour.
  • Animal Fodder; an excellent feed for cattle, pigs and poultry.
  • Green Manure; incorporate the plants as they flower.
  • Mulch production; can be cut many times in a season.
  • Alley cropping; provides nitrogen, habitat and soil stabilisation.
  • Windbreaks; suitable as a shelterbelt around vegetable gardens.
Cultural Requirements

Recommended Planting Time: Spring, or during the wet season, soil temperature should be at least 25C for germination, a higher soil temperature will give a more even germination.
Planting Depth: It can be direct-seeded, or planted into forestry tubes and later transplanted. Sow the seed 2.5 cm deep.
Details: Soaking seeds overnight will improve germination. Protect young plants from all grazing animals.
Inoculant: A group of bacteria called Rhizobium live in a symbiotic relationship with many legumes. This is a big advantage to the plant, as it is able, once inoculated, to produce its own nitrogen, from the soil air. The bacteria are stored in peat, and as this is a living culture, it must be treated with care. It should be stored in the fridge and used within 3 months. Do not separate from the seed packet as the inoculant attached is specific to the individual legume. To use, moisten the seed with a small amount of milk or water and stir in the inoculant until seeds are coated. Do not inoculate the seed until you are ready to sow it and do not leave the inoculated seed in the sun.

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