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Until recently, our country was one of the leaders in the production of lentils. Subsequently, the culture was replaced from the leading positions by peas and beans. Today, this original product is returning not only to the kitchen, but also to the fields.
Agricultural specialists had to restore their knowledge of how lentils grow and how to cultivate them correctly from scratch. Cultural agrotechnics are not particularly complex. Any novice summer resident can get a good harvest of lentils in his personal plot.
Lentils: description, features, best varieties and varieties
Lentils belong to the legume family and are part of the legume group. Only one species is cultivated - food lentils. It is an annual herb 30–75 cm high. Lentils form small bushes.
The stems of the culture are erect, faceted, branched, covered with villi. The root system is weak, thin and slightly branched. The leaves are alternate, paired, with short petioles and branched antennae. Leaves are oval, on short petioles, with a tip at the end, up to 2 cm long. Flowers are small, collected in racemose inflorescences, white, pink or purple, ovary with 2-3 ovules.
Lentils bloom in June-July. After flowering, fruit-pods are formed, drooping, diamond-shaped, only 1 cm long and 0.8 cm wide. One pod contains only 1-3 seeds, which have a flattened shape with sharp edges. The color of the grains depends on the type of lentil.
Cultural lentils are divided into 2 varieties: large-seeded, which is used for human food, and small-seeded - fodder.
Lentil cultivation should be carried out taking into account its biological characteristics. This plant is not demanding on heat: seed germination is possible already at +3 ºС, and seedlings are able to withstand frosts down to -5 ºС. The most friendly and fastest shoots appear when the soil warms up to + 8 ... + 10 ºС to a depth of 10 cm. In this case, shoots appear already on the 7th day after sowing. If the first shoots still die, new stems grow from the underground nodes.
In lentils, as in other leguminous crops, nitrogen-fixing nodules are formed on the roots, enriching the soil with nitrogen.
In our country, more than half of the lentil crop is produced by small farms. The Volga Federal District is the leader in its production in Russia. More than 60% of the total crop harvest is harvested here. It is grown, however, in much smaller volumes, in the Siberian and Southern Federal Districts.
The following varieties of edible lentils are cultivated:
- Green. Most varieties of this variety are large-seeded, with early planting and late ripening. Green lentils are tall and prone to lodging. The main cultivar of this variety is de Puy French green lentils. In the Russian Federation, mainly green varieties are grown: Octava, Anfia, Petrovskaya, Novaya Luna and others that are resistant to lodging, shedding, drought, and diseases. Grain contains 27-30% protein.
- Red. Large-seeded (9 mm), medium and small-seeded (2 mm) varieties are grown. Small-seeded are the earliest ripening.
- Specific. This category includes black (Beluga), Spanish brown small-seeded and orange lentils.
Landing in open ground
The culture gives good yields when cultivated on medium-fertile, loose soils with good aeration, chestnut, podzolic, loamy, sandy loam and chernozems rich in calcium.
Heavy chernozems, acidic and alkaline soils, waterlogged soils are not suitable for the plant. Sowing lentils on soil enriched with organic and nitrogen fertilizers leads to the fact that the plant forms a green mass in a large volume, and the beans ripen unevenly. Their taste and quality indicators deteriorate. In the fall, potassium sulfate is introduced at the rate of 50 g per 1 m².
Before sowing, wood ash is introduced into the soil at the rate of 10 liters per hundred square meters, to which 20 g of ammonium nitrate can be added. No organic matter is added to the culture. Simultaneously with the seeds, superphosphate is added to the rows.
The crop is sown in early spring, when the ground warms up to at least +5 ºС. To speed up the germination of the grain, you can dip it in boiling water for a few seconds and then wrap it in a towel. Such treatment promotes the improvement of the seed from microorganisms and fungal spores. You can soak the seeds in a growth stimulator for a day.
Lentils are sown to a depth of 3-5 cm, rather densely - the aisles are left only 15 cm. 250 large seeds or 300 small ones are used for 1 m².
Lentils will decorate the landscape design at the summer cottage, the decor with this plant is suitable for decorating a garden of "minimal maintenance", compositions in a rural style, edible flower beds.
Lentils can be used as green manure to prepare soil in a greenhouse with your own hands. In this case, the culture is sown in autumn or spring and plowed 1-2 weeks before planting the main crop.
The cultivation technology provides for the use of seeds with a germination rate of at least 85%. Pre-propagation is carried out if there are less than 1000 seeds in the sample, the percentage of germination decreases or there is a desire to breed a new variety, and there is not enough planting material for full-scale sowing.
The minimum number of seeds required for reproduction is 800. They are sown in 4 rows with a length of 4 m and a row spacing of 45 cm.The distance between plots with different varieties should be at least 90 cm.In this case, sowing is carried out in holes, the distance between which is at least 3 cm.
Lentils are self-pollinated plants, but when seeds multiply during flowering, the flower can also be pollinated by insects, which will significantly increase the yield and seed yield. The flowers are examined for compliance with the phenotypic characteristics of the variety.
Before harvesting, growing bushes are dried with the help of special substances - desiccants for uniform ripening. Harvesting in small areas is best done by hand.
Plant care rules
Many people ask if it is possible to get a culture that is independently grown, grown like, it is not difficult to grow lentils - it is an unpretentious plant that does not require special care. The exception is weed control.
Lentils slowly build up green mass, therefore, at first, they need increased protection from weeds and regular watering. Flowering begins 40-45 days after germination. From this time until harvest, the crop becomes resistant to a lack of moisture and high air temperatures.
Excessive moisture during this period slows down the maturation of seeds, so the lentils are watered no more than 2 times a week.
The cultivation of lentils does not involve the introduction of organic and nitrogen fertilizers. The nitrogen-fixing properties of lentils make it possible to provide themselves with this element by 80%.
Lentils are in dire need of phosphorus. It promotes plant rooting and development, participates in nitrogen fixation, promotes uniform flowering and rapid fruit ripening. The maximum safe dose of phosphorus fertilizers is 0.16 kg per hundred square meters.
To form a good harvest, the culture needs potassium in the amount of 0.8 kg of fertilizer per hundred square meters. For the first time, potash and phosphorus fertilizers are applied together with the seeds, and the second time - in the budding phase.
Sulfur is needed to get a good harvest. Ammonium sulfate is added at the rate of 0.09 kg per hundred square meters.
Disease and pest control
Major diseases of lentils:
- Powdery mildew. This is a fungal disease, which is characterized by the appearance on the aerial parts of the plant of a powdery coating of white color - the mycelium of the fungus. Over time, as the pest spores mature, the plaque turns gray. The parasite interferes with the photosynthesis of the plant, which reduces the yield by 20%. The mushroom hibernates in plant debris, becomes more active in hot, dry weather.
- Ascochitis. Fungal disease. On the aerial part of the plants, yellow spots with a brown edging appear, which eventually turn into brown pycnidia. The risk of disease is increased in high humidity conditions. Losses are up to 30%, defective seeds are formed on recovered plants.
- Rust. Mycosis affects all aboveground plant organs, as a result of which rusty-brown spots appear on them, which eventually turn black. With a large degree of damage, necrosis develops on the leaves, they fall off. The yield is reduced by 30%, the seed material is of poor quality.
- Fusarium completely affects the plant. The leaves turn yellow and fall off, the plant stops growing. If the lesion reaches the roots, they turn brown, and the plant itself dies. In the lower part of the stem, you can see a pinkish bloom - fungus spores. The danger of the pathogen is that the seeds of the affected plant accumulate fusariotoxins, which are poisonous to humans and animals. Infection occurs through the soil in which the spores of the fungus winter.
- Root rot. The disease is characterized by the appearance of dark spots in the area of the root collar. The roots begin to rot, the vascular system of plants is affected, as a result of which they die. The causative agent of the disease is bacteria that are activated in high humidity conditions.
To fight diseases, special preparations are used - fungicides and antibacterial agents. The best preventive measure is the selection of resistant varieties. Crop rotation, deep autumn plowing, treatment of crops with Bordeaux mixture, clearing the site of plant precipitation and drafts is considered effective.
- Steppe cricket. It is a black insect with developed wings. The larva has underdeveloped wings, the eggs are white, large (4 mm in length). They eat the green parts of the plant.
- Steppe clicker. These are insects black with a bronze tint, the larvae are brown. The pest hibernates deep in the soil, eats up the green parts of the plant.
- Black weevil. It is a small beetle with gray villi in the lower part of the abdomen; the larvae are white with a brown head. Damage to leaves and fruits.
- Pea aphid. The insect damages all parts of the plant up to the death of the shoots.
- Nodule weevil. The pest eats young shoots and the shell of nitrogen-fixing nodules.
- Snails and slugs. They eat young shoots.
Insecticides are used to control pests. Deep moldboard plowing before wintering is effective, which leads to the death of insects and their larvae.
Combination with other plants
The best precursors for lentils are winter crops, corn, and potatoes.
Lentils, like other legumes, saturates the soil with nitrogen and is a good precursor for any subsequent crops.
Lentils are sown with other crops. To obtain green mass, haylage, silage and seeds in Siberia, the Volga region and the southern Urals, it is sown together with barley, wheat, peas, spring camelina. For this, the seed is mixed in equal parts. In the south of the country, lentils are grown in combined crops with a honey plant - phacelia.
Mainly in Russia, green lentils of the varieties Belotserkovskaya-24, Dnepropetrovskaya-3, Novaya Luna, Petrovskaya-4/105, Tallinskaya-6, Penzenskaya-14, Petrovskaya Yubileinaya are grown. The culture is grown in 13 large regions of the country.
The largest harvests are harvested in the Saratov region - about 65 thousand tons, in second place is the Altai Territory (49 thousand tons), in the third place is the Samara region (40 thousand tons). The yield is 7.2 centners per hectare.
Cleaning and storage
The beans of the culture ripen unevenly: ripening begins with the lower fruits. Harvesting of lentils begins when only 1/3 of the beans remain unripe, and the rest become brown in color. The bushes are cut at ground level and the roots are left in the ground.
Since dry beans crack and open easily, losing seeds, lentils are harvested in the morning, after dew, when the high humidity softens the walls of the fruit. For harvesting the crop, a flexible header with automatic control of the cutting height, an air drum and a crop lifter is used.
Seeds of milky-wax ripeness can be used for food. They are tasty, but poorly stored.
The cut bushes are tied into sheaves and dried for several days in a draft in a suspended form. During this time, the remaining beans ripen. After threshing, the grain is cleaned of impurities, dried in the sun, packed in sealed containers made of glass or metal.
In cardboard boxes or textile bags, lentils are stored in a dark, cool, well-ventilated area. Do not store lentils in beans. They are hygroscopic, quickly absorb moisture, mold and rot.
Threshing is carried out at a seed moisture content of 18%, and grains with a moisture content of 13% for red lentils and 14% for green lentils are suitable for storage. Grain can be dried forcibly, but the temperature should not exceed +45 ºС.
Lentils have a limited shelf life, the shelf life of grain at a moisture content of 14% and a temperature of +15 ºС reaches 40 weeks.