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Harvesting Considerations

See the Guide to Crop Protection for registered desiccants.

On chickpea desiccants will not speed maturity of green crops.

It should be applied when:

  • Parts have yellowed;
  • The pods have matured; and
  • Seeds have changed colour and detached themselves from the pods;
  • Seed moisture content is 30% or less.


The potential yields of desi and kabuli chickpea in Saskatchewan are approximately 2,017 kg/ha (1,800 lb./ac.) and 2,690 kg/ha (2,400 lb./ac.), respectively.

Chickpea plants have stiff stems and a relatively upright growth habit, with pods developing several inches above the ground. Intact pod loss can occur as a result of breakage of the small stem that attaches the pod to the plant.

Some chickpea growers have reported shattering of maturing pods.


Maturing desi chickpea that is subjected to heat or drought stress can exhibit red to purple leaves, stems and pods.

This purpling is a result of an accumulation of naturally occurring plant pigments called anthocyanins. This colour change often occurs on the side of the plant facing the sun, and has not been found to negatively affect yield or quality of the grain beyond that caused by heat and drought stress.


Chickpea is usually straight-cut, but can be swathed ahead of the combine if straight-cut equipment is not available.

Swathing should be done when the plants are slightly damp in order to reduce intact pod loss. Wind can damage swaths.

Swathing too early

Swathing while the pods are still green has caused an increase in green seed in the harvested crop and a loss of grade.

Best results usually occur if combining is delayed until the majority of the pods and plants are fully mature. This may require harvesting the field in stages, leaving immature areas to a later date.

Combine settings

Combine when the seed is at approximately 18 per cent moisture. Initial combine settings should be similar to those used for dry pea; however, a wider concave setting for larger seeds, and an increased cylinder or rotor speed may be required to remove the seed from the pod.

Immature green seeds

Care must be taken not to damage the seed, especially with the large kabuli types. Safe storage is at 14 per cent moisture or less.

Chickpea seed colour is an important grading factor. The stage of the crop should be closely monitored, as harvesting too early increases the chance of green seed in the crop, which lowers the grade and value of the grain. Deductions are implemented if immature green seeds comprise more than 0.5 per cent in kabuli and one per cent in desi chickpea.

Early frost can also result in immature green seed in the harvested crop, and is common in regions outside the areas best adapted for the crop. This will significantly reduce the grade and value of the crop. Other factors that negatively effect quality are Botrytis or Sclerotinia in the seed, admixtures, small seed size and a lack of seed uniformity.

Storage and Handling

Chickpea should be handled in a manner similar to other pulse crops. The irregular seed shape with the exposed beak can lead to increased mechanical damage when handling.

  • Conveyors instead of augers can reduce damage.
  • Aeration can improve storage by reducing seed moisture and temperature.
  • Seed should be stored at 14 per cent moisture or less.

Stored chickpea should be checked at intervals for moisture and temperature levels to avoid spoilage loss.

Grading Standards and moisture conversion

The Canadian Grain Commission has developed grading standards and a moisture conversion table for chickpea.

Grading is done on the basis of:

  • Seed colour
  • Damaged seed
  • Cracked seed coats
  • Green seed
  • Foreign material

Kabuli chickpea prices are often determined by the percentage of seed in each size class (for example: 10mm, 9mm, 8mm, 7mm).

The percentage of each size class is most often determined as it exits the cleaning equipment in the processing plant (described as "net off the cleaner").

Growers are advised that the percentage of each seed size class determined in the pre-cleaning sample may not be the same as net off the cleaner, and the grower and processor should agree beforehand how payment will be based.

Supplemental heat drying of chickpea should be limited to temperatures below 45ºC.

Next: Chickpea Production and Marketing

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