E. S. Oplinger1, L. L. Hardman2, E. A. Oelke2,
A. R. Kaminski1, E. E. Schulte1, and J. D. Doll1
1Departments of Agronomy and Soil Science, College of Agricultural and
Life Sciences and Cooperative Extension Service, University of Wisconsin-Madison,
2Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota,
St. Paul, MN 55108.
Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) is an ancient crop that has been grown in India,
the Middle East and parts of Africa for many years. It may have been grown in Turkey
nearly 7,400 years ago. Much of the world's chickpea supply (80 to 90%) comes from
India where poor soil, use of unimproved varieties and low rainfall results in yields
averaging about 700 lb/acre.
Most of the chickpea acreage in the United States (15,000 acres) is in California
(8,000 acres) but certain areas of eastern Washington, parts of Idaho and Montana
are now growing this crop successfully. This acreage has been increasing to provide
chickpea supplies which formerly came from Mexico, which cut back chickpea production
in favor of pinto bean.
Chickpea is consumed as a dry pulse crop or as a green vegetable with the former
use being most common. Seeds average about 20% protein, 5% fat and 55% carbohydrate.
Seeds are sold in markets either dry or canned. Common uses in United States are
in soups, vegetable combinations, or as a component of fresh salads in restaurant
Some livestock feeding trials have been conducted and these show chickpea to be
a good source of protein for feeds, except that the amino acids methionine and cystine
III. Growth Habits:
Plants are multiple branched, spreading growth habit annuals ranging from 8 to 40
in. tall. Some chickpea varieties have compound leaves (8 to 20 leaflets) and some
have simple leaves, which are pubescent (hairy) in appearance. Chickpea leaves exude
malic and oxalic acids.
Kabuli (large seeded = 800 seeds/lb) varieties are generally taller than the desi
(small-seeded = 1,500 seeds/lb) varieties.
Because of its deep tap root system, chickpea can withstand drought conditions by
extracting water from deeper in the soil profile.
Flowers (self-pollinated) which are borne in groups of two or three are 2 to 1 in.
long and come in purple, white, pink or blue color depending upon variety. Each
flower produces a short, pubescent pod which is 3/4 to 2 in. long and which appears
to be inflated. One or two seeds (2 to 1 in. diameter) are present in each pod.
The seeds come with either rough or smooth surfaces and can be creme, yellow, brown,
black or green in color. There is a definite groove visible between the cotyledons
about two-thirds of the way around the seed, with a beak-like structure present.
IV. Environment Requirements:
Chickpea is a cool season annual crop performing optimally in 70 to 80oF
daytime temperatures and 64 to 70oF night temperatures. They produce
good yields in drier conditions because of their deep tap root. Heavier rainfall
seasons (over 30 in. annually) show reduced yields due to disease outbreaks and
stem lodging problems from the excessive vegetative growth. Areas with lighter,
well distributed rainfall patterns have produced the highest yield and quality chickpea
Chickpea does best on fertile sandy, loam soils with good internal drainage. Good
drainage is necessary because even short periods of flooded or waterlogged fields
reduce growth and increases susceptibility to root and stem rots.
C. Seed Preparation and Germination:
Good quality certified chickpea seed should always be used. This seed should be
high in germination percentage (over 85%), free of damage, and free of weed seeds.
Good quality seed does not need
to be treated with an insecticide or fungicide, but if you have had past problems
with Pythium or Rhizoctonia rots in your fields you may need to treat
your seed prior to planting.
Plan to purchase the special strain of nitrogen fixing bacteria required for chickpea
if you are planting this crop for the first time in a field. It can be purchased
in peat or granular form, the latter type must be used if your seed is fungicide
treated. Follow instructions supplied with your inoculant to ensure its proper use.
V. Cultural Practice:
A. Seedbed Preparation:
A firm, smooth seedbed with most of the previous crop residue incorporated is best.
This will allow proper depth of planting as well as good seed-soil contact, which
is essential for rapid germination and emergence. If moisture is short keep deep
preplant tillage to a minimum to prevent excessive drying in the top 2 to 3 in.
B. Seeding Date:
Chickpea is a cool season species and is frost tolerant as seedlings so seeds should
be planted in early to mid-April when the small grains are planted in the Upper
Midwest. Later planting dates result in shorter plants, less yield and late maturity
of late formed flowers and pods. Flower and pod abortion rates increase if flowering
and pod set coincide with the hottest and driest weather pattern. More research
is needed in this area using currently available varieties.
C. Method and Rate of Seeding:
Chickpeas can be planted at row spacing between 6 in. and 40 in. South Dakota research
showed a yield of 2936 lb/acre in 6 in. rows with only 1900 lb/acre yield production
in 36 in. rows. Both row spacings had excellent weed control, and a plant population
near the recommended rate of 140,000 live seeds planted per acre. Because seed size
varies widely, this planting rate in pounds of seed per acre could vary from 75
to 150 lb/acre. Seeds dropped per foot for 6 in. rows should be about 2; for 15
in. rows 4 or 5 and for 36 in. rows about 10.
Seeds should be planted 1 to 2 in. deep using a drill or planter which can deliver
the chickpea seed without damage. Good seed soil contact should be ensured with
a press wheel if possible.
Because of the high cost of seed and variation in germination rates you should carefully
calibrate your equipment to achieve the proper plant population.
D. Fertility and Lime Requirements:
Fertility requirements for chickpea in Minnesota and Wisconsin are not well known,
but the crop will likely require the amounts of phosphorus, potassium and certain
micronutrients which are recommended for other pulse or legume crops in this area.
Any fertilizer application should be based on soil test level, previous crop and
expected yield level. Soil should be limed to a pH of 6.0 unless a crop with a higher
pH requirement is grown in the rotation. Phosphate and potash recommendations based
on soil test values are given in Table 1.
If roots can be nodulated with the proper strain of Rhizobium, nitrogen fertilizer
will not be necessary. Some growers may wish to provide 15 to 30 lbs of nitrogen
as a broadcast treatment to enhance early seedling development.
Table 1. Phosphate and potash recommendations forchickpeas (2000 to 4000 lb/acre).
-----------------Soil test interpretation---------------
Subsoil fert. group*
---------------------lbs P2O5 /acre--------------------
A, B, C
D, E, X
---------------------lbs K2 O/acre--------------------
A, B, D
1A small amount of starter fertilizer is recommended for cold soils.
*For a description of subsoil fertility groups, see UWEX publication A2809, Soil
test recommendations for field, vegetable and fruit crops. Revised, 1990.
E. Variety Selection:
Specific recent information on chickpea variety performance in Minnesota and Wisconsin
is not available. Much variety development and testing has been done in recent years
at the USDA-ARS and Washington State University research laboratories at Pullman,
Washington; and Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station at Moscow, Idaho and this
information is available. During the 1982-84 growing seasons agronomic scientists
at South Dakota State University in Brookings tested a large number of lines from
the germplasm collections of the International Center for Agricultural Research
in Dry Areas (ICARDA) at Aleppo, Syria. The five highest yielding lines were from
Syria, Turkey and Spain and were well adapted to South Dakota conditions.
Growers should consider maturity, growth habit, seed size and color pattern as well
as yield when selecting a variety to grow. Currently large seeded, lighter colored
seed types are preferred for soup and salad bar uses. For the latest information
on new varieties and seed available contact your local extension office or crop
consultant or write to the Universities discussed above.
F. Weed Control:
1. Mechanical: Chickpea is not very
competitive with weeds so they should be planted only on fields which have few if
any major weed problems, especially perennial weeds such as quackgrass and Canada
Rotary hoeing and/or field cultivating in wider row spacings should be used as necessary
to control weed populations in chickpea. Early weed competition is more damaging
to yield than later emerging weeds. Avoid extensive damage to plants and cultivate
when leaves and stems are dry to reduce spread of disease organisms.
2. Chemical: The herbicide metholachlor
(Dual) can be applied as a preplant incorporated or preemergence treatment. It gives
excellent annual grass and fair to good annual broadleaf control. A rotary hoe could
be used in chickpea in the same manner as with soybean. Row cultivation is not practical
due to the narrow row spacing.
If annual grasses or quackgrass are abundant after the crop emerges, a postemergence
application of sethoxydim (Poast) should be considered. Treat when the grasses are
4 to 6 in. tall. A 1 pt/acre rate controls most annual grasses; check the label
and select the rate appropriate for your weed species. Always use 1 qt/acre
of Dash or a crop oil concentrate when Poast is applied.
Chickpea has been grouped on some herbicide labels with other dry pod harvested
crops such as field bean or adzuki bean. This could allow use of herbicides cleared
in those crops to be used on chickpea. Read labels carefully and seek clarification
from the company involved before using any herbicide on your chickpea crop. Be sure
to ask a company representative, your extension agent or crop consultant for the
most recent information and follow the label directions exactly. Because chickpea
is a lesser grown crop in Wisconsin and Minnesota, label clearance from other states
may not apply.
G. Diseases and Their Control:
Ascochyta blight, Rhizoctonia root rot, Pythium rot, Fusarium
wilt, white mold, bacterial blight and certain viruses are possible disease problems
in production fields of chickpea. These are typical diseases which affect other
pulse or legume crops and they are accentuated by periods of high rainfall, high
humidity and high temperatures.
These are best controlled by using good quality seed, proper crop rotations, proper
tillage practices to bury diseased residue and disease resistant varieties if available.
Contact your extension agent or crop consultant for identification of disease organisms,
threshold value determinations and control or management suggestions.
H. Insects and Other Predators and Their Control:
Because chickpea leaves, stems and pods are heavily pubescent with glandular hairs
that secrete malic and oxidic acid, they suffer little direct damage from aphids
and other insects. Several viral diseases (transmitted by aphids) have occasionally
been reported in chickpea fields in Washington and Idaho. Seedcorn maggot and wireworms
might be expected to cause problems early in the season by attacking the germinating
seed and destroying the growing point.
If a serious insect problem develops in a field, consult your local Extension office
or crop consultant for information about threshold value determinations and recommendations
Chickpea can be harvested direct or swathed prior to combining depending upon uniformity
of maturity and weed problems. About 1 week of good drying weather is required in
Chickpea can be swathed when the plants are yellowing and the pods are their mature
color. This should be done when the plants are slightly damp to facilitate forming
the swath without yield loss. When the vines, pods and seeds in the windrow are
dry enough (seed moisture about 13%) the swath can be combined. Seed color is important
(buyers prefer a yellowish-creme color) so greenish and brown seeds are generally
unacceptable. Slight bleaching does occur in the swath. About 1% immature color
seed is allowed before deductions are implemented.
Adjust the combine screen size, cylinder speed, concave clearance and air flow carefully
to maintain a quality seed with little physical damage or excessive trash.
J. Drying and Storage:
Moisture content should be around 10 to 12% to prevent insect and or disease outbreaks
in storage. Because of their relatively large seed size, chickpea can be dried slightly
with ambient temperature air flow through thin layers in a regular storage bin.
Storage system should be carefully fumigated before storing chickpea and all storage
areas should be monitored regularly to identify potential problems early.
VI. Yield Potential and Performance Results:
Research plot data in Washington and Idaho report yields from 1000 to 3500 lb/acre.
Similarly managed test plots in South Dakota reported yields of 1700 to over 2500
lb/acre. Growers could likely expect yields of 1800 lb/acre under good field and
No current data is available for Minnesota and Wisconsin chickpea yields, either
from research or production fields.
VII. Economics of Production and Markets:
Chickpeas can be marketed under contract or sold to brokerage firms at quoted prices.
Small seeds, damaged seeds, foreign material, and off color in the seed lot will
The outlook for chickpea in both domestic and export markets is bright. In 1980,
California produced only 25% of the nation's annual requirement of about 17,000
metric tons. Foreign market demand is also good because many countries which use
chickpea have shifted acreage to cereal crop production.
As with all specialty crops, growers should locate markets, delivery points and
negotiate a suitable price before committing major acreage to this crop.
VIII. Information Sources:
Chickpeas - A Potential Crop for the Midwest. 1986. Bulletin 698. Agriculture Experiment
Station South Dakota State University Brookings.
Description and Culture of Chickpeas. 1982. Extension Bulletin 1112 Cooperative
Extension Service Washington State University. Pullman Washington.
Garbanzo Beans - A Potential New Pulse Crop for Idaho. 1982. Bulletin 615. Idaho
Agriculture Experiment Station. University of Idaho, Moscow.
Grain Legumes as Alternative Crops. 1987. Proceedings of a symposium sponsored by
The Center for Alternative Crops and Products. University of Minnesota July 23-24,
1987. 194 pages.
The information given in this publication is for educational purposes only. Reference
to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination
is intended and no endorsement by the Minnesota or Wisconsin Extension Services