The Journal of Agricultural Science

Crops and Soils

Productivity and optimum plant density of pigeonpea in different environments in Tanzania

J. K. MLIGOa1 and P. Q. CRAUFURDa2 c1

a1 ARTI Ilonga, Kilosa PO, Morogoro, Tanzania

a2 Plant Environment Laboratory, The University of Reading, Cutbush Lane, Shinfield, Reading RG2 9AF, UK


The objective of the present study was to determine the optimum plant density of four pigeonpea genotypes, representing early, medium and late maturing types, grown in five contrasting environments in Tanzania. ICPL 86005 (early), Kat 50/3 and QP 37 (medium) and Local (late) were grown at four plant densities (40 000–320 000 plants/ha) in irrigated and rainfed conditions at Ilonga and under rainfed conditions at Kibaha, Selian and Ismani. At maturity, total above-ground biomass and seed yield (SY) were measured. The highest yields were obtained in the irrigated experiment at Ilonga, where the medium/late genotypes produced 25 t biomass/ha and 5·6 t seed/ha. The lowest SY were at Kibaha, 0·58 to 1·76 t/ha, where a severe drought occurred. In nearly all cases the response to density was linear or asymptotic. The response of ICPL 86005 was significantly different from the other three genotypes. The optimum density for SY varied from 37 000 to 227 000 plants/ha in ICPL 86005, compared with 3000 to 101 000 plants/ha in the medium/late genotypes. The highest optimum density was at Selian and Ismani and the lowest at Ilonga and Kibaha, where drought occurred. Optimum densities therefore varied greatly with genotype (duration) and environment, and this variation needs to be considered when planning trials.

(Received November 21 2006)

(Online publication January 19 2007)


c1 *To whom all correspondence should be addressed. Email: