Arhar / Pigeon Pea Cultivation and Farming guide

Arhar or pigeon pea, scientifically known as Cajanus cajan, is a legume crop that is widely cultivated in India. The crop is a major source of protein for millions of people in the country, particularly in the northern and central regions. Arhar is also an important cash crop for farmers, generating significant income from both domestic and international markets. In this article, we will discuss the various aspects of arhar/pigeon pea cultivation and farming in India.

Stages of Pigeon Pea plant growth

  1. Vegetative Stage: This stage begins from seed germination and continues until the flowering stage. During this phase, the plant primarily focuses on establishing a strong root system and developing vegetative growth such as leaves and branches. It is crucial to provide adequate water, nutrients, and weed control during this stage to promote healthy plant growth.
  2. Flowering Stage: This is a critical phase in the growth cycle of pigeon pea. It typically occurs around 60 to 90 days after sowing, depending on the variety and growing conditions. The plant starts producing flowers, which can be of various colors such as yellow, orange, or red. The flowers are pollinated by insects, primarily bees, leading to the formation of pods.
  3. Pod Formation and Development: After successful pollination, the flowers give way to the formation of pods. These pods gradually develop and grow in size. The duration of pod development can vary, but on average, it takes around 40 to 60 days for the pods to mature.
  4. Maturation and Harvesting: The final stage of pigeon pea growth is maturation, where the pods change color and reach their full size. Depending on the variety and purpose of cultivation, the pods are harvested at different stages. For grain production, the pods are allowed to fully mature, turning yellow or brown, indicating that the seeds inside have reached their maximum size. In some cases, pigeon pea may also be harvested earlier for its green pods, which are consumed as a vegetable.

Climate and Soil Requirements for Arhar/Pigeon Pea Farming

Arhar/pigeon pea cultivation requires a warm and humid climate. The crop can be grown in temperatures ranging from 20°C to 30°C, with an average annual rainfall of 600-800 mm. Arhar is a hardy crop that can withstand drought conditions, making it a suitable crop for areas with low rainfall. The crop also requires well-drained soils with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. Sandy loam and clay loam soils are ideal for arhar cultivation.

Pigeon pea is typically grown in different months depending on the specific region and climate. The planting season for pigeon pea can vary, but generally, it is sown during the warmer months when the temperatures are favorable for its growth. In tropical and subtropical regions, pigeon pea is commonly planted during the following periods:

  1. In India:
    • Pigeon pea is sown from June to July in the northern states like Punjab and Haryana.
    • In central and western India, it is sown from July to August.
    • In southern India, it is sown from July to September.
  2. In Africa:
    • In East Africa, pigeon pea is typically planted from December to February.
    • In West Africa, the planting season ranges from March to May.
  3. In the Caribbean and Central America:
    • Pigeon pea is usually sown during the rainy season, which can vary depending on the specific country and its climate.

It’s important to note that these timeframes are general guidelines and may vary based on local conditions, including rainfall patterns and temperature fluctuations. Therefore, it is advisable to consult local agricultural sources or extension services to determine the most suitable planting time for pigeon pea in your specific location.

Land Preparation for Arhar/Pigeon Pea Cultivation

Land preparation is a crucial step in arhar/pigeon pea farming. The first step is to clear the land of any weeds, debris, or rocks. The land is then plowed to a depth of 15-20 cm to create a fine tilth. Soil testing is also done to determine the nutrient status of the soil. Based on the soil test results, appropriate fertilizers are applied to the soil. Seedbed preparation involves the creation of ridges and furrows for planting.

Seed Selection and Sowing

Arhar/pigeon pea seeds come in different varieties, such as short-duration and long-duration varieties. Short-duration varieties mature faster, taking 120-150 days to reach maturity, while long-duration varieties take 180-210 days. Seed selection is important, as it determines the quality of the crop. Farmers should choose seeds that are disease-resistant and have high yields. Before sowing, the seeds are treated with fungicides to protect them from soil-borne diseases. Sowing is usually done in rows, with a spacing of 45-60 cm between rows and 10-15 cm between plants.

Arhar/Pigeon Pea Plant Care and Management

Arhar/pigeon pea plants require adequate water throughout their growth cycle. Irrigation should be done at regular intervals, especially during dry spells. Weeding is also important to ensure that the crop is not competing for nutrients with weeds. Disease and pest control measures should also be taken to prevent damage to the crop. Pruning and staking are done to support the plants as they grow taller.

Crop Duration

The crop duration, or the time it takes for pigeon pea plants to reach maturity and be ready for harvest, can vary depending on several factors, including the variety, growing conditions, and climate. On average, pigeon peas have a crop duration ranging from 140 to 180 days after sowing.

It’s important to note that different varieties of pigeon pea may have slightly different crop durations. Some early-maturing varieties can be ready for harvest within 140 to 160 days, while others may take longer, up to 180 days or more.

The crop duration also depends on the purpose of cultivation. If pigeon pea is grown primarily for green pods or as a vegetable crop, it can be harvested earlier, around 80 to 100 days after sowing, when the pods are still tender and immature.

However, if the objective is to harvest mature seeds for grain production, the crop is allowed to remain in the field until the pods turn yellow or brown and the seeds inside have fully developed.

It’s essential to consider the specific variety being cultivated, local climate conditions, and the intended use of the crop when determining the crop duration of pigeon peas in a particular region. Consulting with local agricultural experts or referring to regional planting calendars can provide more accurate information about the crop duration in your specific area.

Harvesting and Post-Harvest Management

Arhar/pigeon pea plants are ready for harvest when the pods turn yellow or brown. The pods are picked by hand and threshed to remove the seeds. After threshing, the seeds are dried in the sun for a few days to reduce their moisture content. The dried seeds can then be stored in airtight containers or sold in the market.

Yield Per acre

The yield of pigeon pea can vary depending on various factors such as the variety, soil fertility, climate conditions, management practices, and pest/disease control. On average, pigeon pea can yield anywhere from 500 to 1,500 kilograms (1,100 to 3,300 pounds) per acre. However, it’s important to note that these numbers are approximate and can vary significantly.

With good agronomic practices and favorable conditions, higher yields can be achieved. Some high-yielding varieties have been reported to produce up to 2,000 kilograms (4,400 pounds) per acre or even more in certain cases.

To maximize the yield potential of pigeon pea, it is essential to follow recommended practices such as proper land preparation, seed selection, adequate irrigation, appropriate fertilizer application, timely weed control, and effective pest and disease management. Additionally, maintaining good crop nutrition and addressing any nutrient deficiencies based on soil testing can contribute to improved yields.

It’s worth mentioning that local conditions, including climate, soil type, and farming techniques, can influence the actual yield per acre. Therefore, it is advisable to consult local agricultural experts or extension services for specific yield estimates and guidance tailored to your region.

Common Challenges and Solutions in Arhar/Pigeon Pea Cultivation

Arhar/pigeon pea cultivation faces several challenges, such as climate change and variability, soil fertility depletion, pest and disease outbreaks, and market volatility. Farmers can address these challenges by adopting climate-smart farming practices, such as crop diversification and use of organic fertilizers. Integrated pest management strategies and early disease detection can also help prevent crop losses. To address market volatility, farmers can form cooperatives and negotiate better prices for their produce.

States where Pigeon Pea grow

  1. Maharashtra: Maharashtra is one of the leading producers of pigeon pea in India. The regions of Vidarbha, Marathwada, and Western Maharashtra are known for significant pigeon pea cultivation.
  2. Madhya Pradesh: Madhya Pradesh is another major pigeon pea-producing state. The districts of Indore, Ujjain, Dewas, and Shajapur are prominent pigeon pea-growing areas in the state.
  3. Uttar Pradesh: Pigeon pea cultivation is prevalent in various districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Varanasi, and Allahabad.
  4. Rajasthan: Pigeon pea is grown in several parts of Rajasthan, such as Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, and Barmer.
  5. Andhra Pradesh: Pigeon pea cultivation is significant in Andhra Pradesh, particularly in the districts of Guntur, Krishna, Prakasam, and Anantapur.
  6. Telangana: Pigeon pea is grown in various regions of Telangana, including Nizamabad, Warangal, Karimnagar, and Khammam.
  7. Karnataka: Pigeon pea cultivation is common in regions of Karnataka such as Belagavi, Bagalkot, Haveri, and Gadag.
  8. Gujarat: Gujarat is known for pigeon pea cultivation, particularly in districts like Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Amreli, and Surendranagar.


In conclusion, arhar/pigeon pea cultivation is an important agricultural activity in India, providing both food and income for millions of people. Successful arhar farming requires proper land preparation, seed selection, plant care and management, and post-harvest management. With the right techniques and management practices, farmers can overcome the challenges and reap the benefits of arhar/pigeon pea farming.