Growing chickpea in Victoria

Chickpea (Cicer arietinum) is a pulse crop with nitrogen sparing characteristics.

Chickpeas are a rotation crop, suited to a sequence with cereals and canola.

Sowing chickpea

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.

Sowing will vary between varieties, but can start as early as mid May to the start of July.

Desi varieties:

  • plant 40 to 50 plants per square meter

Kabuli varieties:

  • plant 25  to 35 plants per square meter

Seeding rate (kg per ha) = Plant density (plants per m2) × 100 seed weight (g) × 10 divided by germination percentage

Use fungicide seed dressing before sowing as it is susceptible to Ascochyta blight and Botryitis grey mould.

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. 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.

Climate

Chickpea varieties vary with their rainfall requirements. Plants will tolerate frosts during the vegetative stage, but once flowering, frosts can cause flower drop if severe enough.

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.

Fertilisers

Chickpeas require phosphorous, sulphur, nitrogen and zinc for successful production. When planning applications it is best to know the paddocks soil pH and fertiliser history. Consult with your agronomist or have a soil test undertaken for these nutrients.

Pests

Redlegged earth mite (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 (Helicoverpa punctigera). The caterpillar damages maturing seed in pods during the flowering and podding stage of plant growth.

Diseases

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 Victorian winter crop summary for the latest Chickpea disease resistance table.

Harvest

Timing is critical when harvesting chickpeas, moisture content should be around 13%, any lower will risk seed cracking or shattering.

Closed or open front headers can be used to harvest the seed but attention to the correct settings is vital. If you're unsure see your agronomist.

Page last updated: 31 Aug 2020