Morton is a small-seeded red-cotyledon lentil that was developed specifically for use in direct seed or minimum-tillage cropping systems. Under no circumstances would planting into cleanly tilled fields be recommended. When planted in the fall the seeds will germinate and produce relatively small plants going into the winter. Depending on winter conditions, the plants often will show some injury and browning of the stems and leaves. However, in the spring and as the weather warms, the plants will resume growth and produce a relatively dense canopy. Some points to consider when planting the Morton winter lentil are as follows:
Land preparation: Very little preparation of the fields is needed; however, there should be sufficient moisture to promote germination and seedling establishment. Some general weed control prior to planting might be practiced using Roundup. Weed control is still somewhat of a problem and therefore individual consultation with weed control specialists is recommended.
Seeding time: For best results the time to plant Morton lentil is estimated to be from September 20th to October 10th. This seeding time will allow the plants to establish in the fall and produce sufficient growth to aid in winter survival.
Seeding rate: Seeding rates for best results are in the range of 30-35 pounds per acre.
Seeding depth: Seeds should be planted to a depth of about 2-2.5 inches. Seedlings may have difficulty emerging from deeper seeding depths especially following heavy rains.
Winter injury: The plants may have symptoms of winter injury and loss of stand depending on the severity of the winter.
Crop development: In general the winter lentil plants will form a small rosette and will provide very little ground cover in the fall and winter. The plants will resume growth in the spring and elongate to produce a dense canopy in most situations. Flowering will begin in late May depending on the location and weather conditions.
Crop maturity: The winter lentil crop will generally mature in mid to late July and can be swathed like spring sown lentils or combined direct.