Chickpea (Cicer arietinum) is a pulse crop with nitrogen sparing characteristics. It is susceptible to ascochyta blight and botryitis grey mould, therefore, it is recommended to all growers to use fungicide seed dressing before sowing.
Sowing will vary between varieties, but can commence as early as mid May to the start of July.
Chickpeas are a rotation crop, suited to a sequence with cereals and canola. Allow a minimum of four years between chickpea crops in the same paddock to minimise the risk of ascochyta blight and root lesion nematode problems.
Chickpeas are poor competitors with weeds during their slow early growth stage, therefore it is highly recommended to implement good broad leaf weed control in the previous year’s crop. Once established they are an excellent break crop from diseases, weeds and pests.
Chickpea crops are best suited to well-drained loam and clay loam soils that are neutral to alkaline (pH 6.0 to 9.0) and have good water holding capacity. For sowing ideally 40 – 50 plants per square meter is desirable for the Desi varieties, and for Kabuli varieties 25 – 35 plants per square meter should be the target.
Seeding rate (formula)
Plant density (pl/m2) x 100 seed weight (g) x 10
See the Winter Crop Summary for the Chickpea time of sowing guide.
Chickpea varieties vary with their rainfall requirements, plants will tolerate frosts during the vegetative stage, but once flowering, frosts, if severe enough can cause flower drop. Chickpeas prefer warmer growing conditions; average temperatures below 15º C will reduce pollen viability and can cause flower drop, and average temperatures over 35º C will lower the potential yield and cause possible flower abortion. Therefore timing of sowing is very important for high yield harvests.
Chickpeas require phosphorous, sulphur, nitrogen and zinc for successful production. When planning applications it is best to know the paddocks soil pH & fertiliser history. Consult with your agronomist and/or have a soil test undertaken for these nutrients.
Red-legged earthmite (Halotydeus destructor) is a black-bodied mite with red legs; it damages seedlings as they emerge.
Cowpea aphid (Aphis craccivora). Moisture stressed crops are susceptible to aphid infestation, especially when the atmosphere is dry and when warm weather occurs in autumn and spring.
Lucerne flea (Sminthurus viridis) is a small (2.5 mm), wingless, light green hopping insect. It chews through leaves in layers resulting in “window-pane” like holes.
Native budworm (Heliothis punctiger). The caterpillar damages maturing seed in pods during the flowering and podding stage of plant growth.
Ascochyta blight (Ascochyta rabiei) is a serious problem in chickpeas, causing black lesions on the stem and the wilting of plants. Variety selection, seed treatment and fungicide sprays are important management practices.
Botrytis grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) is a serious disease of chickpeas in southern Australia. It attacks the base of the stem and the collar region of young plants, where a soft rot develops and then becomes covered with a fluffy grey mould, infected seed is white and chalky in appearance.
Phoma is a seed-borne infection that results in black-brown discolouration of the root near where the seed is attached. Blackening may spread up the root and cause lesions at the base of the stem. Black lesions may completely girdle the base of the stem and root where infection is severe.
See the Winter Crop Summary for the latest Chickpea disease resistance table.
Timing is critical when harvesting chickpeas, moisture content should be around 13 per cent, any lower will risk seed cracking/shattering. Closed or open front headers can be used to harvest the seed but attention to the correct settings is vital (see your agronomist).
Ascochyta blight is caused by the fungal pathogen Ascochyta rabiel, and needs moisture, such as rain drops to spread spores. A widespread occurrence in 1998 destroyed many crops, since then much research and breeding has focused on creating more resistant varieties.
The disease spreads during cool and wet conditions and is often first sighted in late winter. Initial signs include pale water soaked marks on the leaves, then transition to black spots (pycnidia), if the blight is severe enough the infection causes the leaf to blacken and dry up suddenly.
Blight in the stem of the plant present as an elongated lesion, in severe cases it causes the stem to break-off.There are many management options against this disease, they include; choosing a variety that is resistant to the disease, e.g. the Genesis varieties and PBA Slasher. If not possible then use seed with no ascochyta blight history or treat the seed with a registered seed dressing for Chickpeas.
Have a buffer of at least 500m from last years effected crop and this years sowing, and undertake a strategic spraying program during growing times.
Finally clean machinery after use to remove spores.
For more information see AG1186 Ascochyta Blight of Chickpea
Carter J (1999) Chickpea Growers Guide: A Guide to the Production of Chickpeas (Agriculture Victoria -Horsham), (ISBN 0 7311 4479 1).
Wayne Hawthorne, Pulse Australia, Naracoorte, SA and Wendy Bedggood, DPI Horsham, Vic.: Chickpea for SA & Victoria,