RICE BEAN (Vigna umbellate), in spite of its grain yield potential comparable to major pulse crops and excellent nutritional qualities, failed to emerge as an important pulse crop in India.
However, by virtue of its high fodder production potential of up to 35 tonnes per hectare, it is now attracting attention as a leguminous fodder crop.
The climatic requirements of the crop are similar to that of cowpea. Remarkable drought tolerance and feasibility for cultivation in marginal soils enhance the scope of its cultivation to yield fodder during scarcity periods.
Several varieties of this profusely branching, erect or trailing annual herb are photoperiod sensitive, failing to bloom under long day conditions. The fodder crop is sown in February-March or July-August and harvested either when the crop attains maximum vegetative growth or at flowering.
The crop can be raised in a variety of soils, but not under ill-drained conditions. The land should be prepared by one or two ploughings adding farmyard manure at the rate of 5 tonnes per hectare. Before sowing apply fertilizers at the rate of NPK 20:40:30 kg per ha and incorporate in the soil by raking.
The seeds can be either broadcasted or line sown, the seed requirement being 60 and 45 kg per ha respectively. The crop being fairly resistant to several parts and diseases of legumes, pest or disease situations necessitating chemical protection are quite unlikely. February-March sown crop can be harvested in July-August when it attains maximum vegetative growth while July-August sown crop can be harvested at flowering or a bit late in December.
Sunny K. Oommen
and D. L. Sumabai
College of Agriculture,