Lentil varieties produce seeds ranging from size small, averaging under 40 grams per 1,000 seeds (g/1,000 seeds), to large, which average over 50g/1,000 seeds.
Seed coat colours range from clear to green, tan, brown, grey, blotched green and black, or black. Cotyledons may be yellow, red, or green, with various combinations of seed coat and cotyledon colours determining specific market classes.
Green Market Class
Varieties typically have yellow cotyledons with green seed coats and seed size is described as large, medium, and small. About 75 per cent of the green lentils are large-seeded and about 25 per cent are classified as small greens. Green lentil is consumed as whole seed. Most large green varieties require early seeding because of their relatively late maturing, indeterminate growth habit. The tall stature of these varieties can make them prone to lodging, and susceptible to botrytis (grey mould) and sclerotinia (white mould) infection in high moisture conditions.
Red Market Class
Varieties typically have red cotyledons with grey seed coats. Although sometimes consumed whole, red lentil is typically dehulled, or dehulled and split, to increase palatability. Red lentils are divided into large, small, and extra small market classes. Small red varieties tend to be earlier maturing and shorter than green varieties.
Specialty Market Classes
Varieties are grown throughout Saskatchewan in small volumes. Black-seeded lentil (Indianhead variety), originally intended for use as a green manure or plow down crop, has been marketed more recently as a Beluga, or black lentil. French green lentils have a green marbled seed coat with yellow cotyledons, small seed size most similar to small red lentils, and retain their shape better than small reds or greens upon cooking. Green cotyledon lentils have a green or marbled seed coat with green cotyledons and a small-to-medium seed size. Spanish brown lentils have a grey dotted seed coat with yellow cotyledons, small seed size most similar to small reds, and are sold primarily into Spain. Varieties with the Clearfield® trait (have CL suffix) have tolerance to imidazolinone herbicides, such as Odyssey®, Odyssey DLX®, and Solo®. These herbicides if applied to conventional lentils will cause injury.
Varieties differ in their height, maturity, and resistance to ascochyta and anthracnose. Ascochyta resistance rated as good is still only considered intermediate resistance and anthracnose resistance is only to Race 1. Integrated disease management practices are important, as the varieties can still be infected with the diseases.