Moth Bean Cultivation – Farming Practices In India

Moth Bean Cultivation in India

Hello friends, we are here with a new topic of Moth Bean Cultivation in India. The Moth bean is a creeping annual plant belonging to the Fabaceae family. Moth bean scientifically called Vigna aconitifolia. It is also called mat bean, Moth bean, matki, or dew bean. The pods, sprouts, and protein-rich seeds of the Moth bean crop are commonly consumed in India. It can be grown on different soil types, and also act as a pasture legume. Moth bean is rich in iron, calcium, manganese, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin B9.

Moth bean crop grows to about 40 cm high. It has yellow flowers on hairy and densely packed branches that develop into yellow-brown color pods. The seeds of these pods contain about 22–24% protein. Due to its drought-resistant qualities, its ability to combat soil erosion, and its high protein content, it has been identified as possibly a more significant food source in the future. Growing Moth bean is very easy. It can be grown in almost all types of soil, and it is one of the most drought-resistant pulses in India.

The Moth bean is an important pulse crop of hot arid regions of India and also adapts to extremes ecological niches particularly extreme drought and hot climatic conditions. It is mostly adapted to dry soils because of its well-developed taproot and its thick growth and retains soil moisture. It can tolerate little rainfall, as little as 500 mm or less if it comes in 3 to 4 different showers during its growing season. Moth bean can be successfully intercropped with sorghum, millet, or cotton, needs little fertilization, and tolerates some salinity but not waterlogging.

Information about Moth Bean

Name – Moth bean

Scientific Name – Vigna aconitifolia

Origin – Commonly it is cultivated in arid and semi-arid regions of India.

Colors – Yellow to brown

Shapes – Unilocular, elongate, straight about 3.5 to 6.5 cm long, 4 to 5 mm broad.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Moth Bean Cultivation, Farming Practices in India.

Area and Production of Moth Bean in India

Moth bean crop is endemic to India and Pakistan where this is grown for food, forage, and cover crop. It is grown in India and also cultivated in the United States, Thailand, Australia, and other parts of Asia. About 1.5 million hectares of land is used for Moth beans production in India and produces about 0.4 million tonnes/hectares of seeds.

In India, Moth bean is grown on an area of 13.19 lakh hectares, mostly confined to Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka with a production of 1,753 lakh tonnes and productivity of 133 kg per hectare. It is hot weather, drought-resistant legume.

Moth bean recognized for remarkable adaptation in drought-prone regions subjected to a series of environmental vagaries and ecological constraints. These abilities have established their concentration especially in Northern-Western deserted regions of Indo-Pak. subcontinent. Also, in larger areas in India, Moth bean is sporadically grown for different purposes in dry habitats of Burma, Srilanka, Malaysia, South China, and South-Western USA. In the USA it is grown as pasture, fodder, and green manure crop. The major Moth bean growing state is Rajasthan and it contributes almost 86% area of the country. Moth bean crop is also grown in other states like Gujarat, Haryana, and Maharashtra, whereas its area is very low and insignificant in the States of Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. Now, let us get into the details of Moth Bean Cultivation and farming practices.

Different Varieties of Moth Bean

The following varieties may be selected;

a) Normal maturity group means more than 90 days – Moth Guj. 1 (MG-1), Jadra (IPCMO 943), Jwala (IPCMO-926), IPCMO 880 (26% Protein)

b) Medium maturity group that means 70-90 days with uniform rainfall throughout the season

(i) IPCMO 912 (ii) CZM 1 both can be mature in 75-80 days duration

c) Early maturity group means 60-65 days, escape terminal drought especially suitable for late season, and drought areas

State Varieties of Moth Bean;

RajasthanRMO-257, RMO 435, RMB 25, RMO 225, RMO 40, Moth 880, and TMV(Mb-1)
GujaratGMO 1, GMO 2, and Maru Bahar
MaharashtraCAZRI Moth-2 (CZM 45), CAZRI Moth-3 (CZM 99), and Maru Bahar (RMO 435)
HaryanaCAZRI Moth-2, and Moth-3

Select a Location for Moth Bean Cultivation

The Moth bean crops can be grown just anywhere. Moth bean can grow at altitudes up to 1300 meters above sea level. The location for growing Moth bean is that the selected location has well-drained soil and also access to full sun.

Soil Requirement for Moth Bean Cultivation

Moth bean crop doesn’t need the soil conditions other than in which it is generally grown. In other words, it can be successfully cultivated on well-drained sandy plains and dunes with poor organic matters and poor fertility in the Northern- Western mid regions of India.

It is cultivated as sole, mix, and intercrop on plain lands and dunes. Soil may be prepared so that soil moisture is conserved and weeds are completely removed out. On light soils and dunes, the crop can be sown immediately after rains, to lessen the soil moisture losses. Moth bean can tolerate slight salinity and has a wide pH level of 3.5 to 10. Moth bean can be grown in different variety of soil types, but they do well in sandy soil. One ploughing with 1 to 2 cross harrowing will be just enough for preparing the soil.

Climate Requirements for Moth Bean Cultivation

Normally, very little irrigation is required for Moth bean cultivation. The ideal temperature level for growing Moth bean is between 24°C and 32°C. But the Moth bean plants can also tolerate up to 45°C during the day. The ideal annual rainfall is between 500 and 750 mm is required for growing Moth bean and also does well with 300 mm annual rainfall.

Moth bean is a short-day crop and one of the most drought-resistant pulse crops in India. Grown at altitudes up to 1300 m above sea level, it has a wide pH level (3.5–10) and can tolerate slight salinity. Dry sandy soil is most suitable for production and it can tolerate a variety of soil types. The low-lying soil cover the crop creates will helps to prevent soil erosion by preventing moisture loss. Moth bean propagation is done by seed and it preferably on a prepared seedbed, at an optimal temperature level of about 25–27°C.

Best Time for Moth Bean Cultivation

Generally, the Moth bean is sown in May and June, and delay sowing can be done in June end or by mid of July.

You should always try to select those varieties which grow well in your area. Moth bean seeds must be easily available in your area. Also, today there are some seed suppliers available with online stores. Also, you can consider ordering the seeds online.

Seed Rate and Seed Treatment for Moth Bean Cultivation

Generally, Moth bean can be grown as a single crop and forage crop. You will need about 10 to 20 kg seeds per hectare of land when grown as the only crop. If the Moth beans are grown as forage crops it needs 7-34 kg seeds per hectare.

The appropriate seed treatment of Moth bean with Rhizobium culture can give an additional yield advantage. For treating 8 to 10 kg seeds sufficient for one hectare, 250 grams of Gur is dissolved in one liter of hot water. On cooling, sufficient water and 625 g of Rhizobium culture are added and mixed thoroughly. Indicated that use of 400 g of row gum ill the slurry can be effective for sticking of seeds. Before the Rhizobium treatment, the seeds are also treated with fungicides like Captan, Thiram by 1-3 grams per kg seeds.

Moth bean is generally sown as sole, inter-crop, and mix-crop. It is also raised for grain and fodder purposes, as well. The varieties with profuse canopy and erect growth type are also available hence; seed rate may be accordingly decided keeping because of crop requirements. The crop being sown as sole for grain purposes in optimum sowing time, seed rate by 8-10 kg per hectare can be used. For fodder purposes, seed quantity at a rate of 20-22 kg per hectare may be used. For mixed cropping with Bajra, Til, and Guar, etc., Moth bean may be sown by 2-5 kg per hectare.

Seed proportion of Moth bean, as a component of mix-cropping and can be raised on delayed sowing. Moreover, for early maturing, erect type varieties the seed rate for sale crop may be used by 12-15 kg per hectare because these varieties have to be closely planted. Seed rate for spreading and semi-spreading types may be kept around 10 kg per hectare.

Planting of Moth bean in Western Rajasthan is advised to be practiced just the next day of the rainfall. Otherwise, seed germination can be reduced due to fast depletion in soil moisture and the blowing of fast winds leading to the covering of seeds by dry sands. Moth bean could not be planted as board cast but line sowing with planter may be preferred. The Moth bean seeds are sown in rows that are generally 1-3 feet apart. And sow the seeds to about 3 to 4 inches apart and to 1/2 to 1 inch deep. Watering slightly after sowing Moth bean seeds will ensure good seed germination of Moth bean. The Moth bean crop needs less care when compared to other commercial crops. By taking extra care will help the Moth bean plants to grow better.

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Fertilizer Management in Moth Bean Cultivation

The Moth bean plants don’t need applying additional fertilizer. It is generally grown on the neglected and less managed soils, which are inherently poor in physical properties and deficient in organic matter. Therefore, in view to improve organic carbon and physical properties of the soil, the application of fully decomposed Farm Yard Manure (FYM) to the tune of 20-25 tonnes per hectare should be applied. Also, meeting the above requirement of the soil, the same would help increase the water holding capacity of the soils. Being a legume, it meets its N requirement through biological nitrogen fixation; however, indicates that 10 kg N per hectare can be applied at the same planting time. Yield levels of Moth bean have been observed to be increased by the applications of P2O5 up to 40 kg ha-1 at the sowing process. The applications of 10 kg N+40 kg P2O5 per hectare have proved the effective starter dose, hence, may be applied with.

Water Requirement for Moth Bean Cultivation

In India, the Moth bean is one of the most drought-resistant pulse crops and requiring little irrigation for production. These plants are hardy and drought-tolerant; they will do fine if they are irrigated timely and adequately. It requires watering especially during the flowering stage and pod developing stages will be very good for the plants.

Weed Management in Moth Bean Cultivation

  • If you grow Moth bean as a forage crop you don’t have to worry about the weeds. But if you are growing only Moth bean controlling weeds is very important.
  • Also, keep field boundaries and bunds free from weeds.
  • The crop field should be weed-free initially for 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Inter-culture operation/hoeing must be done twice at 20 and 35 days after sowing-using hand hoe to remove all weeds in between the row.
  • Mulches like straw, hay, and plastic, etc., should be used in between the rows to suppress the weed growth

Pests and Diseases Control in Moth Bean Cultivation

Moth bean crop is mainly impacted by Mung bean yellow mosaic virus, for which silver leaf whitefly is the vector. Cultivating some resistant plant cultivars will help prevent most of the pests and diseases. Also, keep good contact with any local expert or agriculture specialist.


Follow common cultural, mechanical, and biological practices.

Cultural control – Apply optimum doses of nitrogen fertilizers. Though, regular field monitoring in the morning hours for monitoring of pests and defender population, barrier crops such as pearl millet and sorghum around the field.

Biological control – Conserve predators like ladybird beetles

Root grub

Biological control – Use Entomopathogenic nematodes


Biological control – It is controlled by spray neem seed kernel extract (NSKE) 5%. Spray neem oil by 1%.

Spotted pod borer

Cultural control – Intercropping is found to be effective for this problem. Collect and destroy the larvae. Keep the field weed-free in the initial 25 to 40 days through intercultural operations and hand weeding

Mung bean Yellow mosaic virus

All the infected plants must be removed carefully and destroyed.

Bacterial leaf spot/blight

Cultural control – Use disease-free and certified seeds.

Charcoal rot or ashy stem blight

Cultural control – All the infected plants must be removed carefully and destroyed.

Follow intercropping cropping system (Mothbean: Sesame) (1:1 ratio).

Irrigate field every 2 weeks to avoid stress conditions

Fungal diseases

Macrophomina phaseolina is the most destructive disease, potential and stable fungal pathogen of this crop causing root rot, seed rot, seedling blight, and collar rot, etc., in all the Moth bean growing areas. Though, the population of this pathogen increases when the Moth bean is succeeding grown in the same field. It appears in a hot and dry climate. Fungus remains widely distributed in the soil and maximum damage is caused at the seedling and plant maturity stage.


1. Infected seeds appear dull and smaller in size; most of them may not germinate.

2. Collar regions of the emerging Moth bean seedlings tum reddish-brown showing discoloration.

3. Discolored area turns dark brown and infected seedlings can die in hot and dry weather.

4. The discoloration of the stem starts with reddish-browning at the collar region, subsequently, the whole plant may wilt out.


1. Seed treatment with carbendazin has been observed most effective in the control of this disease.

2. Seed treatment with Bavistin by 2g kg-1, Captan by 3 g kg-1, and Topsin M70 by 2 g kg-1 seeds could effectively reduce disease intensity and post-emergence mortality of the plant.

3. The fields may be irrigated when soils dry up and the temperature rises.

4. The biocontrol agent like T. Harzianum causes maximum growth inhibition of Mphaseolina isolated from Moth bean.

Brown Web Blight – This Brown Web Blight disease appears during heavy rains and high-temperature levels. Brown Web Blight disease occurs through the soil, seeds, and naturally infected hosts. The temperature of 25-30°C is most congenial for the development of this disease. Losses due to this disease are more severe at the Moth bean seedling stage.


1. Light small round web-like patches can be seen on both surfaces of the plant leaves.

2. Also, every plant part but the flower can bear the patches.


1. Inclusion of non-leguminous crop in the rotation.

2. Close planting may be avoided.

3. Seed treatment with Benlate and Brassicol by 2g kg-1 seed may result in complete elimination of seed-born infection.


Whitefly is a serious pest of a Moth bean crop. Generally, the incidence of whitefly is at a peak during the second week of September. Then, the nymphs and the adults suck the cell sap particularly, from the surface of the plant leaves.

Control – Pearl millet + Moth bean intercropping (1:4) may reduce the population of whitefly effectively around 30 days after sowing.

Other Farming Issues in Moth Bean Cultivation

Generally, the Moth bean is grown for human consumption and as a forage crop. In India, currently, Moth bean intercropped with other cereals like pearl millet. Also, it is grown in rotation with cotton as a forage crop. When grown as a forage crop, it is planted 7 to 34 kg/ha, and 10–20 kg/ha when grown as the only crop. Row planting should be done 30 to 90 cm apart, with seeds sown 2.5 to 4 cm deep. Moth bean takes 75 to 90 days to mature, and it is frequently planted at the end of the rainy season.

A drawback to the Moth bean crop is its difficulty to harvest. Mowers cannot be used due to the shape and density of the branches, so the Moth bean crop is cut with a sickle. Hay yields from this Moth bean crop are 7.5 to 10 tonnes/hectare, while forage matter yields range from 37-50 t/ha. Seed yields are currently low, ranging from about 70 to 270 kg/ha. Then, this crop has the potential to increase yield.

When and How to Harvest Moth Bean

Generally, the Moth bean plants take between 75 and 90 days from planting to harvesting. Harvesting is a bit time-consuming if you keep the pods picked as they mature on the Moth bean plant. The other main option would be to let the whole plant mature and dry and then harvest the whole plant for threshing.

Harvesting Moth bean is pretty difficult, and then it is the main drawback to this crop. After that, you have to cut the plants with a sickle, as you can’t use mowers due to the shape and density of the Moth bean’s branches. Then after cutting, it is threshed and winnowed after being dried for approximately 1 week.

Normally, the Moth bean crop suffers from harvest (shattering), transport and storage losses. According to an estimate, about 8-20% or even more yield losses are expected due to these factors. Hence, harvesting and storage have to be effectively done. The crop can be uprooted when leaves dry up and the pod’s tum light yellow. All plants are stored in the form of a heap and sun-dried for 3 to 5 days. Then, threshing is done by bullocks, threshers, or by the use of hand sticks. After threshing, the Moth bean seeds are again dried in the open sky until their moisture content lowered down to about 8 to 10%. Seeds are then stored in airtight earthen pots by using gunny bags or cloth bags. Grains to be used for seed purposes may be treated with Endosulfan powder, whereas seeds are not at all treated if preserved for edible purposes.

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The Yield of Moth Bean

The Yield of Moth Bean
The Yield of Moth Bean

With the adoption of improved technology, it gives about 6 to 8 quintal grain yields. If it is cultivated for fodder 12- 25 quintal/hectare green fodder yield (depend on variety) can be achieved.


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