Journal of Agricultural Science (Cambridge) (1979), 92, 513-526
by Rupert Sheldrake and A. Narayanan


The growth and development of two early (Pusa ageti and T-21) and three medium- duration (ST-1, ICP-1 and HY-3C) cultivars of pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) were compared at Hyderabad, India, in 1974 and 1975; in 1976 cv. ICP-1 was studied. The pigeonpeas were grown on a Vertisol and on an Alfisol. The crop growth rate in the first 2 months was low. The maximum rate of 171 kg/ha/day was found in the fourth month of growth of cv.ICP-1 on Alfisol. The early culitvars, one of which (cv. Pusa ageti) was morphologically determinate, and the other (cv. T-21) indeterminate, did not differ in the proportion of dry matter partitioned into seeds. The mean dry weight of the above- ground parts of the medium cultivars on Vertisol in 1975 was 8.45 t/ha, including 2.23 t/ha of fallen plant material. The mean harvest index (ratio of grain dry weight to total plant dry weight) of these cultivars was 0.24 excluding fallen material and 0.17 taking fallen material into account. Starch reserves were present in the stems during the vegetative phase, but disappeared during the reproductive phase. In 1974 the maximum leaf-area index on Vertisol was 3 and on Alfisol 12.7. The net assimilation rate tended to decline throughout the growth period, but in the medium cultivars increased at the end of the reproductive phase, probably because of photosynthesis in pods walls and stems.

In 1974 and 1975 the growth of roots and distribution of nodules in Vertisol was investigated by means of soil cores. Roots extended below 150 cm and root growth continued during the reproductive phase. Most nodules were found within the first 30 cm of soil, but some were found below 120 cm. In cv. T-21, grown in brick chambers 150 cm deep, at the time of harvest about three-quarters of the mass of the roots was found in the first 30 cm, and the shoot:root ratio was around 4:1.

In 1975 the mean uptake of nitrogen by the medium cultivars on Vertisol was 120 kg/ha, including 34 kg/ha in fallen material. In 1976 the uptake of nitrogen by cv. ICP-1 was 89 kg/ha on Vertisol and 79 kg/ha on Alfisol, including 32 and 23 kg/ha respectively in fallen material. Nitrogen uptake continued throughout the growing period. The percentage of nitrogen in stems and leaves declined as the plants developed and there was a net remobilization of nitrogen from these organs. The pattern of uptake and remobilization of phosphorus resembled that of nitrogen. In 1976 the total uptake of phosphorus by cv. ICP-1 on Vertisol was 5.8 kg/ha and on Alfisol 5.0 kg/ha.

The relatively low yields of pigeonpeas result from a restricted partitioning of dry matter into pods, which may be related to the plants' perennial nature.

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