Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) a potential grain legume for south-western Australia: Seasonal growth and yield


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The suitability of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) as a winter-sown grain crop was evaluated for the Merredin region (310 mm rainfall) in the south-western Australian cereal belt. Few data on performance of chickpea were available from southern Australia, but similarities of the Merredin climate with that of Aleppo in Syria, where chickpea has been grown for centuries, indicated its potential.
The response of a desi-type early line of chickpea was studied in a time of sowing by density trial in 1982 and a time of sowing trial in 1983, by relating seed and biological yield to dry matter accumulation and distribution, phenological and morphological development.
Seed yields averaged 1.20 t ha-' over the two years, and was little affected by time of sowing or density over the normal sowing period, and confirmed early flowering as the basic ideotype for the region. Seed yield correlated poorly with harvest index, but highly with biological yield within, but not between years. Time to flowering was fairly constant, averaging 100 days after 1160°C days, and
flowering stopped soon after maximum LA1 was reached.
Detailed observations in 1983 showed that the efficiency of formation of seed bearing pods from flowers increased from 38% for the earliest planting to 83% in the latest planting. The failure of early sown chickpea to exploit the longer growing season resulted from the high abortion rate of early flowers, probably caused by low spring temperatures. The 35% of pods aborted in late spring, in all sowing dates, indicates that water stress can be expected to limit chickpea yields, as in other cultivated species, in the region.
Chickpea demonstrated good yield potential for the drier cereal belt on heavy-textured soils at Merredin, to which medics are adapted. The data indicate scope to increase yields by improving tolerance to cold during early flowering and support the concept of increasing seed yields by restricting the number of branches at higher densities, as found in a previous study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-261
Number of pages17
Journal Australian Journal of Agricultural Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1986


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