Growing Black Gram (Urad Dal) Commercially

Growing black gram is popular in Indian subcontinent, especially in India. It is one of the most important pulse crops grown across India. Growing black gram is relatively easy as the plants are hardy and resistant to adverse climatic conditions. And growing black gram in the field will improve the soil fertility by fixing atmospheric nitrogen in the soil.

The black gram (Vigna mungo) is an erect, suberect or trailling, densely hairy, annual herb. The pods are narrow, cylindrical and up to 6 cm long. The plants can grow up to 0.3 to 1 meter. The plants have large hairy leaves and 4-6 cm seed pods.

The black gram is grown mainly for the seeds which are rich in protein. The seeds are used as dal and as main ingredient in breakfast snacks like dosa, idli, vada and papad. Black gram is especially very popular in the Northern India, where it is largely used for making dal from the whole or split, de-husked seeds.

The black gram seeds are also extensively used in South Indian cuisine. It is one of the key ingredients in making idli and dosa batter, in which one part of black gram is mixed with 3-4 parts of idli rice to make the batter.

Black gram is also very popular in Punjabi cuisine. It is popular in Punjab as an ingredient of dal makhani. The black gram is used to prepare dal which is usually consumed with bati. And it is used in biulir dal in Bengal.

Origins

According to Wikipedia, the black gram originated in India. In India, the black gram has been in cultivation from ancient times and it is one of the most highly prized pulses of India. It has also been introduced to other tropical areas by Indian immigrants such as the Caribbean, Fiji, Mauritius and Africa.

Other Names

The black gram is also known by many other names such as urad bean, minapa pappu, black lentil, mungo bean, black matpe bean and also called white lentil as the interior is white. The black gram is also known by many other names in many different local languages in India. In India the black gram is called Urad in Hindi, Mati Mah in Assamese, Kolai Dal or Biuli Dal in Bengali, Adad in Gujarati, Uddina Bele in Kannada, Uzhunnu in Malayalam, Udid or Udadachi Dal in Marathi, Biri Dali in Oriya, Kaali Daal, Mannah or Kaale Maanh in Punjabi, Udad Daal in Konkani, Urdu in Tulu, Ulundhu in Tamil and Minuma pappu, Minappappu or Minumulu in Telugu.

How to Start Growing Black Gram

Growing black gram is relatively easy and simple. It is actually grown throughout India, but the coastal Andhra regions in Andhra Pradesh is famous for growing black gram. Especially, the Guntur District ranks first in Andhra Pradesh for the total production of black gram. However, here we are describing more information about growing black gram from planting, caring to harvesting.

Select Location

First of all select a good location for growing black gram. The black gram plants generally grow well in fertile soil which is rich in organic contents. The plants also require full sun and good drainage system for better growth. Clay or loam soil both are good for growing black gram, but the soil should have neutral pH.

Prepare the Soil

The black gram plants generally grow well in fertile soil which is rich in lots of organic contents. So try to add as much organic content as you can while preparing the soil. 1-2 ploughing with 2-3 cross harrowing will be enough for preparing the soil. Try to remove most of the weeds from the soil while preparing it for growing black gram.

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You have to apply both organic and chemical fertilizers while preparing the soil. For commercial production, add 40 kg phosphorus, 40 kg potassium and 20 kg nitrogen per hectare while preparing the soil (you should do a soil test before using chemical fertilizers).

Climate Requirements for Growing Black Gram

The black gram plants generally prefer dry weather. And the ideal temperature for growing black gram is between 25 °C and 35 °C. 600 to 700 mm average rainfall and hot and humid climate is ideal for this crop.

Best Time for Growing Black Gram

The black gram can be grown twice a year. For summer season crop, sow the seeds within February and April. And you can also sow the seeds in June for winter crop.

Choose a Variety

There are many different varieties of black gram available with different characteristics. Some popular and widely grown black gram varieties are;

  • Kulu-4
  • Prabhav
  • Naveen
  • PDP-71-2
  • UG-218
  • LBG-20
  • LBG-623
  • Azad-1
  • Azad-2
  • Sekhar-1
  • Sekhar-2
  • Mash-114
  • Mash-479
  • WBU-109
  • and many more…..

You can choose any variety depending on it’s availability in your area. Please consult with some of your local farmers for having better recommendations.

Purchase Seeds

Purchase seeds from any of your local market or seed supply stores. The black gram is very popular and the seeds should be easily available in your area. You can also consider ordering the seeds online.

Seeds per Acre

Exact amount can vary depending on the variety you are going to produce. On average, 8-10 kg seeds will be enough per acre.

Planting

The black gram seeds can be sown either by scattering into the field or by planting in rows. We recommend planting the seeds in rows, because it will make additional caring process much easier. The rows should be about 1 ft apart, and the seeds should be about 4 inches apart. Sow the seeds to about 2 inches depth. Watering lightly after sowing the seeds will help to germinate the seeds faster.

You should treat the seeds with seed treating fungicide, before sowing. Treating the seeds will help to reduce infection by fungal pathogens from the soil. You can treat the seeds by Bavistin at the rate of 2 grams per kg seeds.

Caring

Additional caring will help the black gram plants to grow well and they will produce more. Here we are describing more information about the additional caring steps for growing black gram.

Fertilizing: Applying additional fertilizers is not required for growing black gram. In most cases, the plants will grow just fine if you water them timely.

Watering: Watering lightly immediately after sowing the seeds is required. And then additional watering or irrigation is required after every 2-3 weeks. Water the plants in the flowering and pod developing stage.

Controlling Weeds: Controlling weeds is very important for growing black gram. You have to remove the weeds initially while preparing the soil. Hoeing can help to get rid of weeds.

Pests and Diseases

The black gram plants are susceptible to some pests and diseases. Some common pests and diseases of the black gram plants are anthracnose, jassids, hairy caterpillar, leaf curl, leafhopper, seed rot, YM virus etc. You should always keep good contact with an agriculture specialist for having good suggestion for controlling all these pests and diseases from your crop field. Selecting disease resistant black gram varieties is also a good way for controlling pests and diseases of the black gram plants.

Harvesting

Depending on the variety, the black gram crop become ready for harvesting 2-3 months after sowing the seeds. You can determine the harvesting time when the pods and entire plant start to become dry. The seeds will be firm and have low moisture content when they will be ready for harvesting. Harvest the whole plant.

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Dry the plants after harvesting, under sunlight. And for removing the seeds from pods, thresh the plants with a stick or thresher.

Yield

Total yield depends on many different factors. On average, you can expect a production between 800 and 1100 kg per acre.

Black Gram Nutrition

The black gram is very nutritious and healthy. It contains a very high levels of protein, potassium, iron, calcium, niacin, Thiamine and riboflavin.

India is the largest producer of black gram. Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu are the major states in India in growing black gram. However, you can make good profit from this business if you follow all the steps mentioned above perfectly. Good luck!

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