Chickpea (gram pea)

Description

The chickpea, Cicer arietinum, is a leguminous annual plant in the family Fabaceae grown for its edible seeds. The plant has a branched, straight or bending stem with small feathery leaves arranged alternately on the stem. The leaves are composed of 11–15 individual leaflets which are oval in shape. The flowers are produced singly or in pairs and can be white, pink, purple or blue in color. The seed pod is rhomboid or ellipsoid and contains 1–4 cream, brown, green or black seeds. The chickpea plant can range in height from 20 cm (7.9 in) up to 100 cm (39.4 in) and as an annual, grows over only one growing season. Chickpea may also be referred to as gram pea, garbanzo bean or ceci bean and originate from south-eastern Turkey.


Uses

Chickpea is primarily consumed as a dry pulse. The shelled peas are eaten as snack or vegetable. The seed husks can be used as a feed for animals. Chickpeas are also commonly cooked and ground into a paste to produce the popular dish, hummus.


Propagation


General requirements
Chickpeas are cool-season legumes which are best grown as a winter crop in the tropics or as a spring or summer crop in temperate regions. Chickpeas are classified into two distinct types based on seed characteristics. Desi chickpeas have a thick, colored seed coat and the surface of the seed is rough and angular whereas the Kabuli type have white or beige seeds with a smooth surface. Kabuli chickpeas are best grown in temperate areas whereas Desi chickpeas are best suited to semi-arid areas of the tropics. Chickpeas will grow optimally at temperatures between 15 and 29°C (59–84.2°F) with extremes of temperature above 35°C (95°F) and below 15°C (59°F) causing flowers to drop, reducing production. Plants will perform best when planted in well-draining sandy loam soils with a pH between 5.0 and 7.0 in areas where the annual rainfall is between 600 and 1000 mm.

Planting
Chickpeas are propagated directly from seed with timing of planting depending on the variety being grown and geographic location. Spring crops should be planted when the soil has warmed to at least 5°C (41°F). Chickpeas are leguminous and when planting in a site which has not previously been used for chickpea cultivation, seed should be inoculated with an appropriate type of Rhizobacteria prior to planting. Seed is usually spread by broadcasting or by drilling in rows. Desi types require a seed rate of 30 to 40 kg per hectare whereas Kabuli types require 80 to 100 kg per hectare. The seed should be planted 2 to 12 cm (0.8–4.7 in) deep and when planting in rows, seed should be spaced 10 cm (4 in) apart allowing 25 to 60 cm (9.8 to 23.6 in) between rows. Seedlings usually emerge between 7 and 15 days after sowing depending on temperature.

General care
In the home garden, chickpea seedlings will benefit from the addition of a layer of mulch after they have emerged to suppress weeds and conserve soil moisture. Plants should be provided with additional irrigation during periods of dry weather but care should be taken not to overwater as this can cause the plants to drop their flowers and/or pods. Application of fertilizer is generally not necessary as chickpeas are leguminous and fix their own nitrogen with the aid of micro-organisms but requirements vary from field to field and management should be based on the results of a soil test. Like other pulses, chickpeas require phosphorus, potassium and micronutrients for growth and application should be based on the results of soil testing. Suppression of weeds in commercial fields is important as chickpeas do not compete well and weed will reduce productivity. Pre- and post-emergence herbicide applications can be helpful for managing weed. If a field has a history of weed problems then it is not suitable for chickpea production.

Harvesting
Chickpeas are ready to harvest approximately 100 days after planting. in the home garden, chickpeas can be collected and eaten when green but for dried seeds, the leaves should be allowed to turn brown before collecting the pods. The pods should be allowed to dry and split open before collecting seeds. In commercial production, chickpeas can be harvested by swathing and/or combine.



References

CABI Crop Protection Compendium. (2008). Cicer arietinum datasheet. Available at: http://www.cabi.org/cpc/datasheet/13475. [Accessed 11 November 14]. Paid subscription required.

Gaur, P. M., Tripathi, S., Gowda, C. L. L., Ranga Rao, G. V., Sharma, H. C., Pande, S. & Sharma, M. (2010). Chickpea Seed Production Manual. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. Available at: http://www.icrisat.org/tropicallegume.... [Accessed 11 November 14]. Free to access.

Nene, Y. L., Reddy, M. V., Haware, M. P., Ghanekar, A. M., Amin, K. S., Pande, S. & Sharma, M. (2012). Field Diagnosis of Chickpea Diseases and their Control. Information Bulletin No. 28 (revised). Patancheru, A.P. 502 324, India: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. [Accessed 08 July 2015]. Available at: http://oar.icrisat.org/6601/1/InfoBul...

Singh, F. & Diwakar, B. Chickpea Botany and Production Practices. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. Available at: http://www.icrisat.org/what-we-do/lea.... [Accessed 11 November 14]. Free to access.


Common Pests and Diseases

Ascochyta blight
Ascochyta rabiei

Symptoms
Water-soaked pale spots on young leaves which enlarge rapidly under cool, wet conditions and coalesce to cause blighting of leaves; elongated lesions often cause girdling of the stems which break off; new shoots may form at the breakage points; if pods become infected it can lead to reduced seed set; if infected seeds are planted, the seedlings will develop dark brown lesions at the base of the stem and may dry up and die
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Disease emergence if favored by wet weather; spores are carried to new plants by wind and water splash
Management
Grow more resistant varieties such as PBA Slasher or Genesis™ 090; even resistant varieties require fungicide application at early podding to ensure high quality seed; more susceptible varieties may require a first fungicide application approximately 4-6 weeks after sowing

Fusarium wilt
Fusarium oxysporum

Symptoms
Weak and wilting leaf stems, leaves and flowers; lower leaves drying out and dying; leaves turning brown or pale yellow; splitting the stem reveals discoloration of the inner tissue; leaves turn dull yellow in color and collapse
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Disease emergence favors warm, moist soils; disease can be spread by water splash, movement of infected soil and plants and by infected seed
Management
The primary method of controlling the disease is to use resistant varieties; damage can be reduced by application of appropriate fungicides; crop debris should be removed or plowed deeply into the soil after harvest; if disease is present in the soil then a rotation to a non-host for a period of three years can reduce the levels of inoculum in the soil

Dry root rot
Macrophomina phaseolina

Symptoms
Leaves and leaf stems wilting; dark, rotten tap roots; gray fibrous fungal threads on the tap root
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Favors high temperature and low moisture
Management
No fungicides provide effective control of the disease and management therefore relies on cultural practices; utilize adequate plant spacing to avoid overcrowding and competition for water which can promote the disease; crop rotation to a non-host may help reduce the population in the soil

Sclerotinia stem rot (White mold)
Sclerotinia sclerotiorum

Symptoms
Plants rapidly wilting and dying, often without turning yellow; as plants dry out they may turn straw yellow in color; small black fungal bodies (sclerotia) may be present on the surface of the root just below the soil line together with white fluffy mycelium; water soaked lesions may be present on the stem in Spring; infected tissues dry out and may become covered in white mycelium
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Disease emergence favors very wet weather conditions; disease is usually introduced to non-infected areas by infected seed
Management
Plant only certified seed; if disease is known to present rotate crops with non-hosts such as cereals; if problem is severe then a 4 year rotation away from susceptible plants may be required; there are no seed treatments or fungicides available to treat the disease

Damping-off
Pythium spp.

Symptoms
Failure of seedling to emerge; light brown, seedlings with light brown to redwater-soaked roots and stems; collapse of plants; plant dry up and die; stunted plant growth; rotting taproot with few lateral roots
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Occurs more often in cold temperatures when growth of seedlings is slow and in moist soil
Management
Treat seeds with fungicide prior to planting

Cutworms (Black cutworm, Winter cutworm)
Agrotis ipsilon
Agrotis segetum

Symptoms
Stems of young transplants or seedlings may be severed at soil line; if infection occurs later, irregular holes are eaten into the surface of fruits; larvae causing the damage are usually active at night and hide during the day in the soil at the base of the plants or in plant debris of toppled plant; larvae are 2.5–5.0 cm (1–2 in) in length; larvae may exhibit a variety of patterns and coloration but will usually curl up into a C-shape when disturbed
Cause
Insect
Comments
Favors late tillage and planting; major pest for corn and will start attacking everything else after corn is rotated out
Management
Remove all plant residue from soil after harvest or at least two weeks before planting, this is especially important if the previous crop was another host such as alfalfa, beans or a leguminous cover crop; plastic or foil collars fitted around plant stems to cover the bottom 3 inches above the soil line and extending a couple of inches into the soil can prevent larvae severing plants; hand-pick larvae after dark; spread diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants (this creates a sharp barrier that will cut the insects if they try and crawl over it); apply appropriate insecticides to infested areas of garden or field if not growing organically

Beet armyworm
Spodoptera exigua

Symptoms
Singular, or closely grouped circular to irregularly shaped holes in foliage; heavy feeding by young larvae leads to skeletonized leaves; larvae are dark green to brown caterpillars with banding patterns
Cause
Insect
Comments
Beet armyworm is a serious pest of chickpea in India and Mexico; Insect can go through 3–5 generations a year
Management
Organic methods of controlling armyworms include biological control by natural enemies which parasitize the larvae and the application of Bacillus thuringiensis; there are chemicals available for commercial control but many that are available for the home garden do not provide adequate control of the larvae

Cowpea aphid (Black aphid)
Aphis craccivora

Symptoms
Deformed leaves and shoots; curled leaves; if infestation is severe then plants may be killed; seed fill and yield may be reduced; aphids secrete a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew which encourages the growth of sooty mold on the plants; adult insect is small and soft bodied and is easily distinguished from other aphids by its shiny-black color
Cause
Insect
Comments
Black aphids can cause severe damage when infestation is high but more commonly cause problems in chickpea crops through the transmission of several plant viruses
Management
Plants should be monitored for signs of aphids; if insects are present then control measures should be implemented; some chickpea cultivars are more susceptible to aphid infestation than others - cultivars with a low density of trichomes (leaf hairs) are more susceptible than others; chemical control may be warranted although aphids have developed resistance to several insecticides in India; cultural control methods include early planting which promotes early closure of the plant canopy and reduced the spread of viruses; aphid infestations tend to be worse when broad plant spacing is employed

Chickpea leafminer
Liriomyza cicerina

Symptoms
Leaves may have a stippled appearance from females puncturing leaf with ovipositor to feed on exudate; female lays eggs under leaf surface and newly hatched larvae damage the leaf by feeding on the inner tissues; feeding damage from larvae causes the development of winding white trails of the leaf surface; if feeding damage is extensive, the entire leaf may dry out and drop from the plant; damage to young seedlings may result in the death of the plant; crop yield may be reduced
Cause
Insect
Comments
Chickpea leafminers can cause heavy losses in North Africa, West Asia and Northern Europe
Management
Cultural control methods include planting chickpeas in early winter instead of Spring when the populations of the insects are at less damaging levels; crop debris should be plowed deeply into the soil to destroy overwintering pupae; chickpea cultivars with smaller leaf sizes are less attractive to leafminers; insects may be controlled through the application of appropriate chemical insecticides

Pod borers (Cotton bollworm, Australian bollworm)
Helicoverpa armigera
Helicoverpa punctigera

Symptoms
Young larvae feed on foliage initially; young chickpea plants may be completely destroyed; older larvae bore into seed pods and consume seeds; insect frass (feces) may be present outside the feeding holes
Cause
Insects
Comments
Helicoverpa armigera is widely distributed in Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Mediterranean; also a pest of cotton, pigeonpea, sunflower, tomato, maize, sorghum, pearl millet, okra, beans, tobacco, linseed and a number of fruit trees; Helicoverpa punctigera is a major pest of chickpea in Australia
Management
The insect can be very damaging in the areas where it occurs and plants should be monitored carefully for presence of larvae; identifying the species of Helicoverpa present can be important for management decisions as H. armigera is resistant to some insecticides (particularly synthetic pyrethroids), while H. punctigera is susceptible to all insecticides; small larvae should be distinguished with the use of a hand lens or microscope; young H. armigera larvae have a distinctive saddle on the fourth body segment which is absent from the larvae of H. punctigera (see image); older larvae can be distinguished by the color of the hairs behind the head - H. armigera possess white hairs, while H. punctigera have black hairs; both types of larvae may also be controlled organically via release of natural enemies which parasitize the larvae and the application of Bacillus thuringiensis

Phytophthora root rot
Phytophthora megasperma

Symptoms
Leaves of plants turning yellow and drying out; decaying roots; small brown lesions on roots which enlarge and create necrotic patches; lesions may girdle stem
Cause
Oomycete
Comments
Favors warm, wet soil
Management
Varieties with resistance to the disease are available in most areas where root rot is a problem