Cultivation of Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)


The major fenugreek producing countries are India, Argentina, Egypt, Southern France, Morocco, Spain, Turkey, and China. The Centre of origin of fenugreek is South Europe, the Mediterranean area, and Western Asia. Fenugreek is reported to be a native of India and found growing wild in Kashmir, Punjab, and upper Gangetic planes. Its production is concentrated in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh. The major importing countries for Indian fenugreek are France, Germany, Canada, Israel, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, UAE, UK, and the USA.

Fenugreek can be used in many ways. Its green fresh leaves and tender immature pods are used as green cooked vegetables. Sun-dried leaves, which are having aromatic qualities, are used as a spice for seasoning food in off-seasons. Being odoriferous, the dry seeds and their powder are used as condiment/flavoring agents and for medicinal purposes. The seeds are also used for making dye and extraction of alkaloids or steroids. In certain parts, green or dry fodder is usually fed to the cattle. It is recognized well as commercially used in syrups, pickles, baked foods, condiments, chewing gums, icings, and cooked food seasonings. The fenugreek leaves and seeds have been used in cosmetics and hair conditioning. In Punjab, dried plants are added to stored grains as an insect repellent.

Fenugreek is one of the few spices which is also used extensively for medicinal purposes owing to its hypoglycemic and hypocholesterolemic properties.

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Climate and soil

Fenugreek requires a cool climate for better growth. A cool growing season without extremes of temperature is favorable for best development. It is cultivated both in tropical as well as temperate regions. In India, it is mainly grown as a rabi season crop but in south India, it is also grown as a rainy season crop. Fenugreek can be grown in almost all types of soils having good drainage but grows best on well-drained loamy soils. Organic matter-rich clay-loam soil may also be used if adequate drainage facilities are available. Although its crop is tolerant to salinity up to 8.4 pH, neutral soils having a pH range from 6.0-7.0 always gives higher yield with better quality of leaves.


There are many varieties released for cultivation in different areas. The description of some of the important cultivated varieties recommended for different states is given here.

Andhra Pradesh

Lam Selection 1: The plants are bushy with medium-sized golden yellow seeds. It is tolerant to root rot, powdery mildew, caterpillars, and aphids. It matures in 90 days and gives an average yield of 7.40 q/ha.


Rajandra Kranti: The plants are tolerant bushy green with medium-sized golden yellow seeds. It is moderately resistant to powdery mildew, caterpillars, and aphids. It matures in 120 days and gives an average yield of 12.50 q/ha.


GM 1: Its plants are dwarf with an average yield of 18.6 q/ha. The variety is suitable for Gujarat.

Haryana Hisar Sonali: The plants are bushy, semi-erect with bold, yellow, attractive seeds (13-15 g/1000 seeds). It is moderately resistant to leaf spot and root rot complex disease. It matures in 140-150 days and gives an average yield of 19.0 q/ha.

Hisar Suvarna: This is a dual-purpose cultivar suitable for Haryana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. It is resistant to powdery mildew and moderately resistant to downy mildew with an average yield of 19-20 q/ha.

Hisar Mukta: It is a natural, green seed coat mutant, selected from the IL-335-1 germplasm line, a collection from Uttar Pradesh. Yields are around 20-23 q/ha and resistant to downy mildew and moderately resistant to powdery mildew. It is suitable for cultivation under all fenugreek-growing states in north India.

Hisar Madhavi (HM 350): It is medium in maturity with an average yield of 19-20 q/ha. This variety is resistant to powdery mildew and moderately resistant to downy mildew.


Ajmer Fenugreek 1: The seeds are bold and large and their number per pod ranges from 17-20 with 17-20 g weight. The crop takes 137 days to mature and gives a yield of 17.2 q/ha. The crop is grown exclusively for leaves and yields about 76 q/ha of green leaves from 3 cuttings.

Ajmer Fenugreek 2: The seeds are small in size. The number of seeds per pod is 16-18. The crop takes 138 days to mature and gives a seed yield of 18.1 q/ha The crop is grown exclusively for purpose of leaves, yielding 72 q/ha of green leaves in 3 cuttings.

Ajmer Fenugreek 3: This variety has been identified for national release on the basis of higher yield as well as better quality, especially for diosgenin and 4-hydroxy-iso-leucine contents. It is moderately resistant to powdery mildew and root rot diseases. Its seeds contain 1.70% diosgenin. On average, it gives a 12.88 q/ha seed yield.

RMt 1: The plants are semi-erect, tall, and moderately branch bold, containing yellow-colored grains. It matures in 140-150 days with an average seed yield of 14.7 q/ha. It is moderately resistant to root rot and tolerant to powdery mildew.

RMt 143: Its grains are bold with typical yellow color. It is moderately resistant to powdery mildew. It takes 140-150 days to mature with an average yield of 16 q/ha and is especially recommended for heavier soils of Chittor, Bhilwara, Jhalawar, and the Jodhpur area.

RMt 305: This variety has been developed through mutation breeding from RMt-1 and is the first determinate type fenugreek variety. It gives an average seed yield of 13 q/ha. The plant is dwarf, determinate, multi-podded, early maturity, resistant to powdery mildew, and root-knot nematode suitable for all fenugreek growing areas.

Tamil Nadu

CO 1: It has been developed through selection from TG 2336 of IARI and released in 1982. The plants are short and green with medium-sized brownish-orange seeds. It is tolerant to root rot. It matures in 95 days and gives an average yield of 6.80 q/ha.

Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand

Pant Ragini: It is a dual-purpose variety that can be grown both for the leaf as well as seed purposes. Plants are tall and bushy types. The variety is resistant to Downey mildew and root rot. It matures in 170-175 days.

Pusa Early Bunching: It is a quick-growing variety with upright shoots having bold seeds. It is suitable for seed as well as leaf-cutting and gives an average seed yield of 12 q/ha. It matures in 100-125 days.

Pusa Kasuri: It is a small Kasuri type variety, mainly cultivated for leaf purposes and not for seeds. It is a late flowering variety with rosette-type leaves of which 5-7 cuttings can be taken. It is a heavy yielder of green leaves with a special fragrance. Its average seed yield is 5-7 q/ha and the crop is grown exclusively for greens with an average yield of about 80 q/ha.


Preparation of land

The land should be well prepared for better germination and growth of fenugreek. At the time of sowing, there should be good moisture in the soil for better germination of seed.

Sowing time

Fenugreek, is a cool-season crop, is sown during October-November in northern plains, whereas, in hilly tracts, it is sown from March to May depending on altitude. In areas with a mild climate, fenugreek for fresh greens may be grown round the year except during extremely hot months of summer and rainy season.

In Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, fenugreek is sown twice, once in rabi (September December) and again in Kharif season (June-July). Kasuri type varieties require preferably extra cool weather for a longer duration and are thus raised more successfully in northern states in winter than the southern states of India. For higher yield, it is better than sowing time should be so adjusted that the pod development and seed maturity phase may coincide with a dry and rain-free period. Recommended sowing time for seed crops in different states is given Under.

Andhra Pradesh – First week of October
Bihar – Middle of October
Gujrat – Last of September to the first week of October
Haryana – Middle of October up to November (First week of November is ideal)
Rajasthan – First week of October to last week of November 
Tamil Nadu – First week of October
Uttar Pradesh – October – November

Seed rate

The quantity of seed required for sowing per unit area depends on the purpose for which the crop is sown. For the common type, the seed requirement is 20-25 kg/ha and for the Kasuri type, the seed requirement is 10-12 kg/ha.

Seed treatment

Fenugreek is a legume crop and fixes about 283 ha/year of atmospheric nitrogen into the soil. The role of Rhizobium in fenugreek production is well established, and thus inoculation of seed before sowing has proved beneficial in getting higher seed yield. Seeds should be treated with Rhizobium meliloti local culture prior to sowing, especially when the crop is sown in a new field. Seed should be treated with Bavistin or Thiram @ 2.0g/kg seed for the control of early fungal diseases.

Sowing method

The line-to-line spacing of 25-30 cm and plant-to-plant of 10-15 cm is recommended. Although the depth of sowing seeds depends on soil type and soil moisture at the time of sowing, being small in size, the seeds of common fenugreek are usually sown at a depth of 2-3 cm and Kasuri fenugreek at 1.0-1.5 cm.

Manure and fertilizers

Application of FYM (10 /ha) has a beneficial effect on the enhancement of vegetative growth and results in higher dry matter production of fenugreek. Application of one tonne per hectare of neem cake has also proved beneficial. The microbial inoculation with Azospirillum, Azotobacter, and Rhizobium has been reported to be suitable means for the organic cultivation of fenugreek. Doses of fertilizer depending on the fertility status of the soil and variety. Fertilizer application of 40 kg N, 20 kg P₂O, and 20 kg K₂O is recommended.


Fenugreek requires light irrigation at frequent intervals for its quick growth. However, it can also be cultivated under rainfed conditions in certain parts of the country. Normally 6-7 irrigations are required in light soils and 4-5 irrigations are needed in heavy soils. The early growth period and seed set are the critical stages for irrigation requirements.

Interculture operations

Two weeding and hoeings first at 15-20 days after sowing and second at 40-50 days after sowing are recommended to raise good crops. Integrated weed management using a pre-sowing application of Pendimehalin @ 1 kg/ha or pre-sowing application of Fluichloring @ 0.75 kg/ha in 500-600 liters of water, supplemented with one hand weeding once in 50 days is a very effective method of weed control.

Diseases and pests

The important pests affecting the crop are aphids (Acrythosiphon pisum, Myzus persicae and Aphis craccivora), Leaf-eating caterpillar (Spilarcita oblique and Spodoptera litura), pod borer (Helicoverpa armigera), jassids (Empoasea spp.), and whitefly (Bemisia tabaci), and mites (Pertobia latens).

Diseases that affect the crop are root rot (Rhizoctonia solani), powdery mildew (Erysiphe polylgoni and Laveillual tourica), downy mildew (Peronospora trigonella), and damping-off (Pythium aphanidermatum).

Harvesting and post-harvest management


Depending upon the variety and season of growing, the seed crop takes about 80-165 days from sowing to harvesting. The entire plant is either pulled out or cut from the base with a sickle when 70% of the pods turn yellow and are made into small bundles for drying in sun. Seeds are separated by threshers. The seed is cleaned and sun-dried before packing in jute bags containing polyethylene lining.


Seeds are stored in gunny bags lined with polythene film. A vacuum gravity separator is used for cleaning fenugreek seeds. The properly cleaned fenugreek seeds are stored with an initial moisture level of 7-8% and relative humidity of 40%. Fenugreek seeds well packed are stored in a ventilated dry and cool place under ordinary conditions till sowing of next season crop.

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