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August 04, 2012

Article: Lentil

Read the entire article here.


E.S. Oplinger1, L.L. Hardman2, A.R. Kaminski1, K.A. Kelling1, and J.D. Doll1
1Departments of Agronomy and Soil Science, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and Cooperative Extension Service, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI 53706.
2Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108. May, 1990.

I. History:

Lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) may have been one of the first agricultural crops grown more than 8,500 years ago. Production of this cool season annual crop spread from the Near East to the Mediterranean area, Asia, Europe and finally the Western Hemisphere. It may have been introduced to the United States in the early 1900s. The crop has received little research attention to improve its yield and quality. It grows well in limited rainfall areas of the world.
Lentil is a pulse (grain legume) crop. In North America much of the acreage is in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and western Canada where drier growing season conditions prevail. It has been grown in that area since the 1930s as a rotation crop with wheat. Most of the lentil production in the United States and Canada is exported, but domestic consumption is increasing.

II. Uses:

Lentil is a protein/calorie crop. Protein content ranges from 22 to 35%, but the nutritional value is low because lentil is deficient in the amino acids methionine and cystine. Lentil is an excellent supplement to cereal grain diets because of its good protein/carbohydrate content. It is used in soups, stews, casseroles and salad dishes. Sometimes they are difficult to cook because of the hard seed coat that results from excessively dry production conditions.
Lentils which fail to meet food grade standards (graded #3 or below) can be used as livestock feed because of their high protein content and lack of digestive inhibitors.
Lentil can be used as a green manure crop and one particular Canadian variety, Indianhead, provides a large amount of fixed nitrogen (estimated to be 20 lb/acre).

III. Growth Habits:

Lentil plants are slender, semi-erect annuals with compound leaves (4 to 7 pairs of leaflets) with a tendril at the tips. Plants normally range from 12 to 20 in. tall, the taller plants resulting from cool growing season temperatures, good moisture and good fertility. Plants can have single stems or many branches depending upon the population in the field.
Flowering begins on the lowest branches, gradually moving up the plant and continuing until harvest. Each flower produces a short pod containing one or two lens-shaped seeds. Flowers can be white, lilac or pale blue in color and are self-pollinated. At maturity plants tend to lodge because of their weak stems.
Lentil produced in North America has larger seeds than that from India and the Near East. The seeds (2 to 7 mm in diameter) come in colors of tan, brown, or black, and some varieties produce purple or black mottled seeds. Lentil seed number varies from 15,600 to 100,000 seeds/lb.