Saturday, December 1, 2012

Chickpea Update

A bit of an update on the chickpeas at the trial site. They are podding up well and still flowering. This plant below has 155 pods and 55 flowers. FYI it has 71 pods on 8 primary branches, 73 pods on 16 secondary branches and 11 pods on 4 tertiary branches. There are no pods on the main stem.
The chickpeas were planted on the 10th of August in a wheat stubble. There was 520mm of rain between 1st December 2011 and 10th August, so there was plenty of stored moisture at planting. Between planting and Nov 30 we have had 140mm of rain, not very much but good for chickpeas. They have had a single spray for caterpillers and no fungicide as yet.
Red chickpea plants - I'm pretty confident that the red plants are due to a virus. They are only isolated plants which adds up to aphid spread virus infection.
Two things people tell me about chickpeas is that they should be planted earlier and that our soils are unsuitable.
Around the world chickpeas have three planting windows. The first is late summer in tropical areas where they are planted at the end of the monsoon, grown on stored moisture and harvested in winter. The second is late autumn and early winter in subtropical and temperate areas where chickpeas are grown on winter rainfall or irrigation. The third is a spring plant in areas with a very cold or very wet winter. In light of all this I think that a late winter plant should be fine for us. We need to do some trials to see if an earlier planting gives us any benefit.
Our soil types is a duplex loam over clay. The loam topsoil is naturally quite acid (pH 4.7 CaCl, 5.5 H2O). The trial site has had a good dose of lime and where the chickpeas are growing it has a pH of 5.2 (CaCl, 6.0 H2O). Our clay is pH neutral to slightly alkaline.

Chickpea Plant
Field Peas
We also have Kaspa field peas. They appear to be doing quite well. It would be interesting to compare field peas and chickpeas over the long term. Field peas should yield more, but chickpeas are worth more.
They would both fit really well planted into a corn stubble. The field peas might tolerate waterlogging better, and the chickpeas would tolerate drought and heat better. Personally, I like the chickpeas as they are something that could capitalise on our November rain, spreading our risk and stretching our harvest window a bit longer.
Kaspa Field Peas

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