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Adaptation of cajanus cajan (pigeon pea) in sub-tropical Australia

E.S. Wallis, P.C. Whiteman and D.E. Byth

Department of Agriculture, University of Queensland. St. Lucia, Q. 4067.

Most accessions previously introduced, including the released cultivar Royes, are photoperiod sensitive with minimum times to flower of approximately 100 days. As a result, early frost incidence is a major limitation in many otherwise suitable environments. Furthermore, early sowing gives tall plants which are difficult to harvest and an extended flowering period which makes Heliothis control difficult. Production systems for cultivar Royes for favourable environments have been developed (Wallis et al. 1979).

Introduction and selection of early flowering material is in progress. We have also developed a population of short statured, early flowering pigeon peas from an off-type plant identified in an ICRISAT line ICP7179. Monthly sowings of the self-pollinated progeny of this plant (from November to February) flowered rapidly, in 52-63 days, suggesting that this genetic material is insensitive to photoperiod at 28S latitude. Photoinsensitivity has been confirmed in controlled environment studies under 16 hour daylengths (Turnbull pers. comm.). Pigeon pea can now be sown at relatively constant density across planting dates beginning in spring, with the plant crop harvested in 110 days and a ratoon crop harvested prior to frost. Seed yields of a bulk population of this material have been encouraging (Table 1).

TABLE 1. Seed yields of photoinsensitive C. cajan at Redland Bay at two sowing dates at the 500,000 plants ha-1 density.

High yielding lines have been selected from this material but all have small seeds (7g/100 seeds). Early maturing introductions (ICP7220, UPAS-120 and 3D8103), selections (photo insensitive lines, QPL5) and large seeded types (ICP7035, C322) are the basis of a plant improvement program to develop photo-insensitive, early flowering (less than 65 days) large white seeded cultivars suitable for mechanized production.

Wallis. E.S., Whiteman, P.C. and Byth, D.E. (1979). Qld Agric. J. (in press).

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