Table of Contents
Phatak, S.C., R.G. Nadimpalli, S.C. Tiwari, and H.L. Bhardwaj. 1993.
Pigeonpeas: Potential new crop for the southeastern United States. p. 597-599.
In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), New crops. Wiley, New York.
Pigeonpeas: Potential New Crop for the Southeastern United States
Sharad C. Phatak, Ram G. Nadimpalli, Suresh C. Tiwari, and Harbans L. Bhardwaj
- IMPORTANCE AND USES
- NUTRITIVE VALUE
- POTENTIAL FOR PRODUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES
- Table 1
Pigeonpea [Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.] is one of the oldest food crops
and ranks fifth in importance among edible legumes of the world (Morton 1976;
Salunkhe et al. 1986). Pigeonpea grows well in tropical and sub-tropical
environments extending between 30deg.N and 30deg.S latitude with a temperature
range of 20° to 40°C (Sinha 1977). It is widely grown in about 14
countries in over 4 million ha. The major producers of pigeonpea in the world
includes India, followed by Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia, and
Mozambique in Africa; the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rica, and the West Indies
in the Caribbean region and Latin America; Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, and the
Philippines in Asia; and Australia (Sinha 1977). Several countries in Africa
(in the central, western, and southern regions), North America, Central
America, and South America have been identified as potential areas for
Pigeonpea is used for food, feed, and fuel. Pigeonpea produces more nitrogen
from plant biomass per unit area of land than many other legumes although it
usually produces fewer nodules than legumes (Onim 1987). Pigeonpea can fix
about 70 kg N/ha per season by symbiosis until the mid-pod-fill stage. This is
around 88% of the total nitrogen content of the plant at that stage of growth.
The residual effect on a following cereal crop can be as much as 40 kg N/ha
(Nene 1987). Rarely does the plant need to be inoculated because it can
nodulate on Rhizobium naturally present in most soils (Faris 1983).
Pigeonpea has been used as a green manure crop. It grows well even in soils
with a low phosphorus level. The plant is remarkably hardy to both low
temperatures (as low as 5° to 10°C) and high temperatures (up to 40°C)
and, thus, is an ideal crop to fit into cropping systems of in many parts of
the world (Sinha 1977).
Pigeonpea is normally grown as an annual shrub, but is a perennial in which
plants may grow for several years and develop into small trees. It gives
additional yield after the first harvest if sufficient moisture is available,
and it has great flexibility in a wide range of cropping systems. The crop has
a wide range of maturity (80 to 250 days) and time to maturity is greatly
affected by temperature and photoperiod. Thus, there exists maturity types of
pigeonpea for many different cropping systems. Pigeonpea is a superb intercrop
for planting with cereals and other crops. However, short-duration types have
been developed in Australia and India that mature in less than 100 days with a
yield potential of over 5,000 kg/ha and can be grown as sole crop in multiple
Pigeonpea is a rich source of proteins, carbohydrates, and certain minerals.
The protein content of commonly grown pigeonpea cultivars ranges between 17.9
and 24.3 g/100 g (Salunkhe et al. 1986) for whole grain samples, and between
21.1 and 28.1 g/100 g for split seed. Wild species of pigeonpea have been
found to be a very promising source of high-protein and several high-protein
genotypes have been developed with a protein content as high as 32.5% (Singh et
al. 1990). These high-protein genotypes contain protein content on average by
nearly 20% higher than the normal genotypes (Saxena et al. 1987; Reddy et al.
1979). The high-protein genotypes also contain significantly higher (about
25%) sulphur-containing amino acids, namely methionine and cystine (Singh et
al. 1990). Pigeonpea seeds contain about 57.3 to 58.7% carbohydrate, 1.2 to
8.1% crude fiber, and 0.6 to 3.8% lipids (Sinha 1977). Pigeonpea is a good
source of dietary minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron,
sulphur, and potassium (Table 1). It is also a good source of soluble
vitamins, especially thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and choline (Table 1).
Pigeonpea is most widely eaten in the form of split seeds and used in this way,
it contains protein with an amino acid profile similar to that of soybean
(Singh et al. 1990). Green pods and green seeds are also consumed as a
vegetable. Vegetable pigeonpea types are important in Central America s well
as in Western and Eastern Africa, where green peas are consumed as soups, etc.
(Morton 1976). Vegetable types, generally large podded with large,
sweet-tasting green seeds are preferred in Puerto Rico. Canned pigeonpeas are
marketed in certain parts of the world (Morton 1976).
By-products of split and shrivelled seed are used as livestock feed. The
present high cost of animal sources of protein feeds, such as fish and
bonemeal, makes pigeonpea ideal to be used as a good plant protein substitute
as it is less expensive. Pigeonpea provides an excellent forage for livestock
and there is a great scope for selecting cultivars with not only higher grain
yields but also higher forage yields and crude protein. It has a high
percentage of crude protein (28.2 to 36.7). Pigeonpea stems are used as fuel
wood in the energy-short villages of several African countries. Stems are also
used for fencing crop fields, and in weaving cribs and baskets. Tall,
perennial pigeonpeas are often also used as live fences in Africa and the
Caribbean. Pigeonpea is also used in folk medicine in India, Argentina, and
Cuba (Morton 1976).
The United States National Technical Information Service prepared a report for
the U.S. National Science Foundation in 1978, in which the need to introduce
pigeonpea into the United States for large-scale production was stressed.
Realizing the importance of its market potential and uses, we started
evaluating a pigeonpea advanced breeding line that we received from the
International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in 1988.
Pigeonpeas are a good alternative crop with low fertilizer requirements and
with minimum pesticide need. Over sixty breeding lines have been evaluated
during the last four years at Tifton, Georgia, and Lorman, Mississippi. Old
cultivars with short-day requirements for flowering failed to mature before
frost damage in October-November. However, new breeding lines less sensitive
(e.g. ICPL 86005, ICPL 8501 etc.) to day length, flowered and produced a crop
before frost. We have identified 6 breeding lines (ICPL 86005, ICPL 8501, ICPL
84023, ICPL 85046, ICPL 86015, and UPAS 120) producing over 4,000 kg/ha in 100
to 110 days, compared to the average world yield of pigeonpea of 700 kg/ha.
Two or three breeding lines will be named and released in 1992.
- Faris, D.G. 1983. ICRISAT's research on pigeonpea, p. 17-20. In: Grain
legumes in Asia. ICRISAT, Patancheru, India.
- Morton, J.F. 1976. The pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan Millsp.), a
high-protein, tropical legume. HortScience 11:11-19.
- Nene, Y.L. 1987. Overview of pulses research at ICRISAT, p. 7-12. In:
Adaptation of chickpea and pigeonpea to abiotic stresses. ICRISAT, Patancheru,
- Onim, J.F.M. 1987. Multiple uses of pigeonpea, p. 115-120. In: Research on
grain legumes in eastern and central Africa. International Livestock Centre
for Africa (ILCA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
- Reddy, L.J., J.M. Green, S.S. Bisen, U. Singh, and R. Jambunathan. 1979. Seed
protein studies on Cajanus cajan L., Atylosia spp, and some
hybrid derivatives, p. 105-117. In: Seed protein improvement in cereals and
grain legumes. vol. 2. IAEA/FAO, Neuherberg.
- Salunkhe, D.K., J.K. Chavan, and S.S. Kadam. 1986. Pigeonpea as important
food source. CRC Critical Review in Food Sci. and Nutrition 23(2):103-141.
- Saxena, K.B., D.G. Faris, and S.C. Gupta. 1986. The potential of early
maturing pigeonpea hybrids, p. 290. In: ACIAR Proc. on Legume Crop
Improvement. Canberra, Australia.
- Saxena, K.B., D.G. Faris, U. Singh, and R.V. Kumar. 1987. Relationship
between seed size and protein content in newly developed high protein lines of
pigeonpea. Plant Foods Hum. Nutr. 36:335-340.
- Singh, U., R. Jambunathan, K.B. Saxena, and N. Subrahmanyam. 1990.
Nutritional quality evaluation of newly developed high-protein genotypes of
pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan L.). J. Sci. Food Agr. 50:201-209.
- Sinha S.K. 1977. Food legumes: distribution, adaptability and biology of
yield, p. 1-102. In: FAO plant production and protection paper 3. FAO,
Table 1. Mineral and vitamin contents of pigeonpea (Sinha 1977).
|Mineral/vitamin ||Range ||Mean|
|Calcium ||57-276 ||166.5|
|Total P ||131.8-600 ||365.9|
|Phytin P ||153-236 ||194.5|
|Magnesium ||16-300 ||158|
|Iron ||3.5-16.6 ||10.1|
|Sodium ||--- ||28.5|
|Potassium ||--- ||1104|
|Copper ||--- ||1.25|
|Sulfur ||--- ||177|
|Chlorine ||--- ||5|
|Thiamin ||0.45-0.80 ||0.63|
|Riboflavin ||0.13-0.19 ||0.16|
|Niacin ||2.9-3.22 ||3.1|
|Folic acid ||--- ||0.1|
|Choline ||--- ||18.3|
|Carotene ||66-132 ||99|
Last update May 2, 1997