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Lentil Seeding

Early lentil seeding results in taller plants that hold their bottom pods higher off the ground, which facilitates easier harvesting with higher yields and often better quality. To make lentil harvesting easier, choose fields that are level and free of stones or dirt clumps. This choice is important since the final crop canopy is not very tall.

  • Seed Depth: 1–2 inches (2.5–5 cm)
  • Soil Temperature: 4–5º C
  • Seeding Dates: mid-April (southern Alberta), late April (central Alberta), early May (northern Alberta)
  • Seeding Rates: 105–147 plants per square metre
  • 1,000 Kernel Rate: 30–80
  • Seeds Per Pound: 5,600–15,000

The Government of Alberta’s Seeding Rate Calculator can help you determine the proper dry bean seeding rate. To ensure the best results, use seed with both high germination and vigour.

Lentil is well-suited to most types of conventional seeding equipment. When seeding lentils with an air seeder, keep in mind that high air velocity can damage dry seed, so air velocity should be just high enough to avoid plugged lines. If your seeding equipment has on-row packing, you typically will not need to pack further, but seeding with discers and air seeders that do not have packing wheels will need to be followed with harrow packing immediately after seeding, as lentils emerge quickly.


  • early seeding (mid-April in southern Alberta, late-April in south-central Alberta and early-May for central and northern Alberta) usually results in the highest yields and quality
  • early seeding results in taller plants that hold their bottom pods higher off the ground, which facilitates easier harvesting
  • seeding can begin when soil temperature is 4-5˚ C or warmer at depth of seeding
  • lentil seedlings can tolerate light frosts and will regrow (with a resulting delay in maturity) if damaged by heavy frosts
  • avoid excessive soil moisture at seeding because these conditions will increase stand loss due to seed or seedling rots
  • later seeded crops (mid- to late-May) of short-seasoned varieties will develop quickly in warm, moist weather and can sometimes catch up to an earlier seeded crop – the trade-off is that while crop development speeds up at higher temperatures, lentil can experience heat stress and slower crop development
  • temperatures exceeding 27˚ C will often reduce the seed set of later seeded crops
  • final allowable seeding date for lentil insured by Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) is May 15 Seeding Rates
  • recommended seeding rates for lentil are 40 lb./ac. for small-seeded types and 80 lb./ac. for large-seeded types – rate is based on desired plant stand density of 10 plants per ft2 or 108 plants per m2
  • actual seeding rate should be calculated based on seed germination and vigour tests – it will be necessary to increase seeding rate to compensate for poor quality seed
  • like other crops, low seeding rates of lentil will result in poor crop competition with weeds, reducing yields
  • do not seed more heavily than the recommended rate, because densely populated stands encourage disease development
  • if seed is to be treated with fungicide and/or inoculated with seed-applied inoculant, calibrate seeding equipment with treated seed, since seed coatings will affect the metering and flow of seed through equipment

For information on seeding by plant population, see Using 1,000 Kernel Weight for Calculating Seeding Rates and Harvest Losses, Agdex 100/22-1.

Seeding Depth

Always seed lentil into moisture because of its relatively large seed size. Avoid excessive spring tillage. Lentil can emerge from relatively deep seeding, although lower plant vigour, greater incidence of disease and lower yields may result. Optimum seeding depth under normal moisture conditions is 1 to 2 in. (2.5 to 5 cm) with seeding depths of 2 inches or more if you plan to use the herbicide Sencor®.

Seeding Equipment

Lentil can be seeded with all types of conventional seeding equipment, keeping in mind the following points:

  • take care when using air-seeders, since excessive air velocity can damage dry seed (less than 14 per cent seed moisture) – air velocity should be just high enough to prevent line plugging
  • large-seeded lentil is more prone to damage than small-seeded types – use belt conveyors to move seed; if using conventional augers, run them as slowly and as full as possible
  • mechanical damage to dry lentil seed (less than 14 per cent seed moisture) can be reduced by seed moisturizing
  • if seeding equipment has on-row packing, no further packing is usually required
  • seeding with discers or air-seeder units without packing wheels should be followed with harrow packing
  • to prevent crusting, avoid packing operations on wet soils – seed needs oxygen for germination
  • any harrow packing operation should be done immediately after seeding because lentil emerges quickly
  • lentil is well-suited to direct seeding practices