Lentils - Production and Management

Field Selection

Lentils grow well on most well drained soil types. Yield can be severely reduced on wet, poorly drained soils, as root diseases will increase. Fields can be rolled post-emergence, up to the 4-6 inch height. Lentils are sensitive to herbicide residues.

Certain herbicides are residual in soil to varying degrees and under a range of field conditions. Examples include atrazine, clopyralid (Lontrel, Curtail), ethametsulfuron (Muster), flucarbazone (Everest), imazethapyr (Pursuit, Odyssey), metsulfuron methyl (Ally).

To determine the factors affecting the persistence of each product and for specific recropping intervals, refer to the current Manitoba Agriculture, Food & Rural Initiatives Guide to Field Crop Protection.

Variety Information

Performance Testing

Seeding Lentils


Lentil seed can be treated with a fungicide treatment for the control of seed-borne ascochyta, and root rots and blights.


Lentils can be seeded early in the growing season. Lentils will tolerate several degrees of frost and will regrow if the above-ground portion is damaged. Yield will usually be reduced if lentils are seeded after the third week in May.

Days to maturity by market class

Market Class
Days to Maturity
small red cotyledon
small yellow cotyledon
medium yellow cotyledon
large yellow cotyledon



Seeding rate will vary with seed size and germination. Target a plant population of approximately 10-14 plants/ft2. Small lentil varieties, such as Eston and Dark speckled, should be seeded at a rate of 30-40 lb/acre. Larger-seeded varieties, such as Laird, should be seeded at a rate of 70-80 lb/acre.

Seeding Depth

1 to 1.5 inches. Seed should be sown to moisture. Seeding depth should be increased in soils with a low water-holding capacity.

Fertilizer Recommendations For Lentils

For specific recommendations, have your soil tested. To maximize the nitrogen fixation ability, lentils should be inoculated. If soil analysis is not available, general recommendations are as follows:


Nitrogen (N):
Nitrogen is not recommended. Treat at seeding with appropriate rhizobial inoculant.
Phosphate (P2O5):
Apply phosphate at 30-40 lb/acre as a sideband or 20 lb/acre with the seed.
Potassium (K2O):
On sandy-textured or organic soils apply potassium at rates of 30-60 lb/acre.
Sulphur (S):
Apply sulphate sulphur at 20 lb/acre on well-drained soils and grey luvisol (grey wooded) soils. Sulphur deficiency may occur in many soils and in any area of the province. A soil test is recommended to determine the available sulphur status of fields.


Weed Control

Weed control in lentils is important because lentils are a relatively non-competitive crop. Herbicides for the control of certain broadleaf weeds (Canada thistle, perennial sow thistle and dandelion) either are not available or provide less than acceptable control. Lentils must be sown to fields free of difficult-to-control perennial weeds such as Canada thistle and perennial sow thistle. Consider applying pre-harvest herbicides the year before growing lentils for perennial weed control.

How to obtain printed copies of the Field Scouting Guide and Guide to Field Crop Protection.


Cutworms may be a problem in lentils early in the season. Grasshoppers can also be a problem in lentils.

How to obtain printed copies of the Field Scouting Guide and Guide to Field Crop Protection.


Diseases affecting Lentils

Diseases in lentils are ascochyta blight, anthracnose, fusarium root rot, rhizoctonia root rot and sclerotinia. Anthracnose and ascochyta blight can cause severe yield loss in lentils.

Anthracnose can be first noticed as white to gray or cream-coloured spots develop on the leaflets and stem. They usually appear on the base of the stem and move up the plant canopy. Leaf drop occurs as the disease progresses.

Ascochyta blight also starts with light-gray to tan spots occurring on the leaflets, stems and pods, but will have a dark margin around the spot. The centres of the spots turn light-coloured and develop small black spots in them. The crop will look blighted in appearance. Both diseases can be managed by using a foliar fungicide program.

Crop rotation (growing lentils only once in four years), and the use of certified, disease-free seed will help to minimize the disease.

Root rots become evident at any stage from emergence to maturity. Individual plants become stunted, turn yellow, and die. Essentially the root system has been destroyed. Crop rotation may help. However, the wide host range of these diseases makes this a less than effective option.

Also refer to Scouting for Diseases

How to obtain printed copies of the Field Scouting Guide and Guide to Field Crop Protection.

Harvesting Lentils


Desiccation is useful when the crop is not uniform or weeds are prevalent. Consult the Guide to Crop Protection and product labels for specific directions for use.


A pickup reel will help in moving the plant material off the cutter bar onto the canvas. Swaths are very prone to blowing, so whenever possible they should be combined immediately after swathing. Lifter guards on the swather will allow for cutting close to the soil surface.


Lentils are considered dry at 14% moisture. However, lentils should be harvested at 16-18% to avoid excess splitting or cracking of the seed. Lentils thresh easily and a slow cylinder speed (400 rpm) will reduce cracking. Set the concave wide enough to avoid cracking.

Storage And Handling

Lentils can be safely be stored at 16%. When combined tough, lentils should be aerated to 14-16% seed moisture content.


The major quality concerns in lentil grading are colour (staining, dirt tag) and damage due to heating and peeled, split or broken seed, as well as foreign material.

For specific information on: