End to dal woes? Scientists breed high-yield super arhar variety

What IARI scientists have now bred is a ‘determinate’ early-maturing pigeon-pea, which produces 20 quintal per hectare in just 120 days.

Written by Harish Damodaran | New Delhi | Published:January 15, 2016 3:03 am
In 120 days, new variety produces 20 quintal per hectare. In 120 days, new variety produces 20 quintal per hectare.

It could well be the answer to India’s arhar dal woes.

Scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) have developed a new arhar (pigeon-pea) variety that matures in 120 days, gives the same 20 quintal-per-hectare yields of normal 160-180 day plants and is, moreover, amenable to mechanical combine harvesting.

Arhar plants are mostly ‘indeterminate’; they keep growing and, left to themselves, can even become perennial trees. In Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, farmers plant the crop in June-July and harvest it after 250-280 days in March-April. In other parts, especially Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, the varieties grown are of medium duration (160-180 days) and also yield 20 quintal per hectare.

What IARI scientists have now bred is a ‘determinate’ early-maturing pigeon-pea, which produces 20 quintal per hectare in just 120 days.

“It is a totally new plant-type, whose apical meristems (tissues at the tip of the main stem) only produce flowers. Unlike the indeterminate pigeon-pea plants, where the meristematic cells keep dividing and producing vegetative buds (giving rise to new leaves and shoots), here the growth stops with production of flowers and setting of pods,” K V Prabhu, joint director (research) at IARI, said.

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But that’s not all. In normal arhar varieties, the flowers produced from the axillary and lateral branches do not set pods at the same time. So, even at the time of harvesting, not all the pods are mature. Some may have already shattered, others would still be developing or be even at the flowering and vegetative bud stages.

In the new plant-type — called PADT-16 (Pusa Arhar Determinate) and bred by a team led by Prabhu and R S Raje, principal scientist at IARI’s division of genetics — the flowering and pod-setting is synchronous, with the crop maturing and ready for harvest in 120 days.

“This is a short, compact plant-type that grows to hardly 95 cm height, compared to 175 cm for medium-duration arhar and 300 cm-plus for perennials. The spacing between rows, too, is only 30 cm (as against 60-70 cm in normal arhar varieties) along with lower plant-to-plant distance (15 cm versus 30-40 cm). Since there are more plants per unit area, it creates a compact canopy,” Raje said.

The benefits are two-fold.

First, being a dwarf semi-erect plant makes pesticide spraying easier. The normal arhar plants rise to six feet levels, at which application is difficult and also tends to be non-uniform. “Here, you can use a regular knapsack pesticide sprayer and ensure every plant is covered. Also, you only need to give one good spray against maruca insect and pod borer at bud initiation stage after 65-70 days,” Raje said.

Secondly, synchronous maturity and podding happening only at the top — because of the compact canopy and no tertiary or quaternary branch growth — means the entire arhar crop can be harvested at one go using combine harvesters. “This is something that the Punjab farmer would want, as in the case of wheat and paddy. An early-maturing, short, compact plant-type precisely fits that requirement,” Prabhu said.

Experts believe that India’s pulses production cannot increase to match growing demand unless farmers in irrigated regions like Punjab, Haryana and western UP take up large-scale cultivation. But that isn’t possible without breeding high-yielding varieties/hybrids amenable to mechanisation.

So, when will the new ‘super’ arhar make it to the fields? “Our immediate priority is seed multiplication. We have supplied the breeder material to the Punjab Agricultural University for further foundation seed multiplication in the coming kharif season. Once the plant variety protection for the new plant-type is obtained, we could even involve private seed companies to enable commercial cultivation by 2018,” said Prabhu. He is also the main breeder of HD-2967, a blockbuster IARI wheat variety currently grown over 10 million hectares.

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  1. D
    Dr. H.
    Nov 8, 2016 at 7:02 am
    I would like to congrats Dr. R. S. Raje and his team for doing wonderful job in pigeonpea.
    Reply
    1. B
      BhaskerSharma
      Dec 4, 2016 at 4:14 am
      Sir I need the short duration arhar dal seed for sowing in about 2.5 hect land in motadabad distt. U.P. please provide me details about seeds availabolity and others.lt;br/gt;Thankslt;br/gt;Bhasker sharma
      Reply
      1. K
        Kaliyug
        Jan 15, 2016 at 10:33 pm
        This is good news for the farmers and good news for the consumers if their health is not going to be affected by this product. Without scientific innovations there cannot be an end to hunger. The scientists should be recognized for their contributions. now they should develop varieties that are drought tolerant and insect tolerant,, so everything is Organic.
        Reply
        1. D
          disgusted
          Jan 15, 2016 at 12:37 am
          Great work done by Prabhu and his team!! This would be a game changer in pulse production across India. Since most of indians depend on pulses for their protein needs, this invention is much needed boon!
          Reply
          1. j
            jaihind101
            Jan 15, 2016 at 3:13 am
            poor guy is just barking like his boss anti national pappu and his criminal anti national sonia gundi
            Reply
            1. J
              jagar
              Jan 15, 2016 at 8:40 am
              How do you Modi does not go for the same purpose?
              Reply
              1. J
                jagar
                Jan 15, 2016 at 8:39 am
                Many a slip between the lab and the field.
                Reply
                1. K
                  Kantijain SeoniMalwa
                  Jan 15, 2016 at 10:41 am
                  Kya ye new variety arhar seed Farmers ke liye available he. Yadi he to seed Hume kaise milega bataye.
                  Reply
                  1. L
                    Lalsingh Yadav
                    Apr 27, 2016 at 12:17 pm
                    WHERE THE SEED OF NEW VARIETY ARE AVAILABLE. PLEASE MAKE US WISE
                    Reply
                    1. M
                      madan gupta
                      Jan 15, 2016 at 12:35 am
                      जबानी जमा खर्च बंद करो. प्रक्टिकल काम करो. लोग भूखे मर रहे हैं, मोदी जी विदेश की सैर कर रहे हैं.
                      Reply
                      1. N
                        Nagar Iyer
                        Jan 15, 2016 at 5:12 pm
                        Every day 100 farmers commit suicide in India. The reason for their suicide is FOREIGN TECHNOLOGY introduced in Indian Agriculture. Not only the farmers commit suicide. Even we consumers are becoming victims of TOXIC FOOD at alarming rate. Modi should, instead of going with begging bowls to other nations, should concentrate on indigenising our Agriculture, Education.
                        Reply
                        1. N
                          Nagar Iyer
                          Jan 15, 2016 at 4:59 pm
                          [Throw out these Scientist FRAUDS. They can never revive our Agriculture. Only ORGANIC FARMING can. ] [Ban CHEMICAL FARMING throughout India and make ORGANIC NATURAL farming mandatory] [Strictly implement BAN on DESI COW and BULL slaughter throughout India because they provide the most valuable FERTILIZERS and PESTICIDES man can ever manufacture]
                          Reply
                          1. N
                            Nagar Iyer
                            Jan 15, 2016 at 5:10 pm
                            {मोदी MNC और CORPORATEs के एजेंट बन गए हैं} {भारत में खेती सुधारने के लिए एक ही उपाय है - रासायनिक खेती बंद करो और जैविक खेती अनिवार्य करो} {मगर यह MNCs और CORPORATEs - GM और रासायनिक खादों में अरबों रूपये लूट रहे हैं} {हमारे देश में हर राजनीतिक पार्टी के नेता इन रासायनिक कंपनियों के एजेंट हैं} {जब तक रासायनिक खेती और देसी गाय और बैल के कतल बंद नहीं होते भारत का किसान का हाल बेहाल रहेगा }
                            Reply
                            1. N
                              nilesh
                              May 8, 2016 at 4:37 pm
                              how to gave seed of toor
                              Reply
                              1. S
                                Saurabh Swami
                                Jan 18, 2016 at 1:45 pm
                                The news article discusses about new variety that would be helpful to increase arhar dal yields. Organic farming cannot change an indeterminate plant to determinate or reduce plant height for ease of cultivation or reduce the crop duration from 180 days to 120 days
                                Reply
                                1. S
                                  Sheshrao Poste
                                  Nov 25, 2016 at 12:02 am
                                  Write a comment...मुझे 1हेक्टर का अरहर पुसा 16 का बिज चाईऐ।शेषराव पोस्ते,मु.पो.-चांडोळ,,ता.जि.बुलडाणा,443106 .मो.नं.9860921599
                                  Reply
                                  1. T
                                    Trinka
                                    Jan 21, 2016 at 6:12 am
                                    it is from PUSA (Govt of India). Many seed stockists sell PUSA in most cities
                                    Reply
                                    1. R
                                      ramana vemu
                                      Jan 15, 2016 at 4:38 am
                                      what will the farmer get. the middle men benefit , that is the story. the problem is not because we have bad varieties of pulses or grain. the problem is that the central govt is looting the farmers. banks do not extent the right amount of credit at the right time. and then the insurance policy which keeps on changing every now and then confusing everybody
                                      Reply
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