Production potential of Lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) in East Africa
Lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) could possibly become a major crop in East Africa due to its many uses as a food and feed. Also, its ability to undertake symbiotic nitrogen fixation is an advantage over cereal crops. This study simulated lentil yield potential in order to determine the geographical areas in East Africa that offer potential for consistent lentil production. Results show that there is potential to further expand the geographical area in which lentil is currently grown in East Africa into Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and even Somalia. Response to a change in management practices on potential yield of lentil as a result of different sowing dates was also examined. In addition, the effect of phenology on yield potential was examined by comparing a short-season type vs. a long-season type. Delaying sowing alone or in combination with a long-season genotype can result in a high probability of crop yield increase in East Africa. For the long-season genotype, an optimum sowing window was found between June and July (152–229 day of year) for areas to the north of the Rift Valley. Later sowing dates (229–243 day of year) were found to be optimal in southern areas of East Africa. These simulations indicated that selection and breeding for lentil accessions in East Africa should consider changes in plant phenology and/or sowing dates.