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Chickpea: Seeding Considerations

Superior seed quality is needed for successful chickpea production.

Seed should be tested at an accredited seed testing laboratory to determine important factors such as percentage of:

  • Germination;
  • Disease levels; and
  • Seed purity.

Note: A 1,000-seed test provides a more accurate test of seed-borne diseases than the standard 400-seed test.

The large size and uneven shape of chickpea seed can lead to mechanical seed damage during the seeding operation, and cracked seeds will rarely produce a viable plant.

As well, frozen seed should not be used.

Seed treatment

Kabuli chickpeas have a very thin, cream-coloured seed coat and are susceptible to Pythium seed rot. The use of a seed treatment is recommended to protect kabuli from this disease.

Desi chickpea has a thick, dark-coloured seed coat, does not usually require a seed treatment to protect it from Pythium. Both kabuli and desi chickpea are susceptible to other rots and blights (see Disease Control).

Seed and Disease

As well as being residue-borne, ascochyta blight is highly seed-borne. The transmission of the disease from the seed to the seedling is common in chickpea; therefore, seed to be planted should be tested for the presence of ascochyta.

Growers should use seed with as close to zero per cent seed-borne ascochyta as possible. Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation has set maximum seed-borne ascochyta infection levels in chickpea seed at 0.3 per cent in order to qualify for a crop insurance claim where the cause of loss was ascochyta blight. See the Guide to Crop Protection for seed treatment fungicides registered for the control of seed-borne ascochyta in chickpea.

Seed treated with a fungicide

Seed treated with a fungicide should be allowed to dry prior to applying nitrogen-fixing inoculant. Once inoculated, plant as soon as possible, as delays can reduce the efficacy of the inoculant. Granular inoculants are less affected by fungicide seed treatments than other forms of inoculants because the granules are separated from the seed.

Seeding depth

The proper seeding depth for chickpea is 3.5-6 cm (1.5 2.5 in.). Chickpea should be seeded into moist soil to provide the necessary moisture for proper germination and inoculant survival.

Seeding rates depend on:

  • Seed size;
  • Seed germination; and
  • Survival percentage.

Seeding rates range from 90-105 kg/ha (80 95 lb./ac.) for desi types to 135-210 kg/ha (120 190 lb./ac.) for kabuli types. The desired plant population is 33-44 seedlings/m2 (3-4/ft.2). Crop stands of this density provide better competition against weeds and will result in more uniform maturity and higher yields. The following formula should be used to determine the seeding rate for chickpea.

Seeding rate (lb./ac.) = (population/ft.2 x 1000 seed wt. g)x 10
  % field emergence or survival

Research was carried out by AAFC, Swift Current, to determine if large kabuli chickpea seed can be screened and sized before planting.

The results indicated that the 9 and 10 mm seeds could be removed from the seed lot and sold into the commercial market. Seeds, as small as 8 mm, could be used for planting, with no yield penalty or loss in seed size as long as the smaller seeds did not have an increased percentage of seed-borne diseases.

Planting only 7 mm seeds of the large kabuli varieties is not recommended because they may have reduced seedling vigour.

Recommended soil temperature

  • The recommended minimum average soil temperature at depth of seeding for desi chickpea is 7ºC. This is slightly higher than the minimum average soil temperature recommended for dry pea and lentil.
  • The minimum average soil temperature at depth of seeding for kabuli chickpea should be 10ºC.

Kabuli chickpea has a very thin seed coat and is easily infected by soil-borne fungi.

Warmer soil is required for rapid germination and emergence of seedlings. Planting should take place as soon as the soil reaches these temperatures in order to provide enough time for the crop to mature before the first fall frost.

In Saskatchewan, chickpea should not be planted much later than May 24 due to the crop's long growing season requirement.

Land Rolling

Land rollers are less beneficial in chickpea production than in pea and lentil production, since chickpea does not usually lodge and the stubble height is greater. Rolling of chickpea fields should only be done before crop emergence.

Post-emergent land rolling is not recommended, as it may:

  • Spread disease such as ascochyta blight; and
  • Can cause mechanical injury because chickpea seedlings develop stiff stems early in their development.

Next: Chickpea Crop Protection

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