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Chick Pea (Cicer arientinum L.)


  • Introduction
  • Soil
  • Climate
  • Varieties 
  • Manures and Fertilizers
  • Irrigation
  • Interculture
  • Pest Control
  • Disease Control
  • Harvesting and Yield
  • Storage and Marketing
  • Uses and Composition
  • Seed Production
  • Economics of Cultivation


Chick pea occupies Gram commonly known as 'chick pea' or Bengal gram is the most important pulse crop in India. about 38 per cent of area under pulses and contributes about 50 per cent of the total pulse production of India. It is used for human consumption as well as for feeding to animals. It is eaten both whole fried or boiled and salted or more generally in the form of split pulse which is cooked and eaten. Both husks and bits of the 'dal' are valuable cattle feed. Fresh green leaves are used as vegetable (sag). Straw of chick pea is an excellent fodder for cattle. The grains are also used as vegetable (chhole). Chick pea flour (besan) is used in the preparation of various types of sweets. Chick pea is considered to have medicinal effects and it is used for blood purification. Chick pea contains 21.1 per cent protein, 61.5 per cent carbohydrates, 4.5 per cent fat. It is rich in calcium, iron and niacin.


Chick pea is one of the important pulse crop of the world cultivated over an area of 12.0 million hectares with a production of about 9.2 million tones of grain (1999). The important gram growing countries are India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Burma and Turkey. India ranks first in the world in respect of production as well as acreage followed by Pakistan.

It is the most important pulse crop of India occupying an area of 6.3 million hectares with production of 5.1 million tones. The average yield of chick pea is only 806 kg per hectare. The major chick pea production areas are situated in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra and Punjab.


The Indian grams have been classified into two broader groups:


Desi or Brown Gram (Cicerarientinum L.): In this group the color of the seed ranges from yellow to dark brown. Seed size is usually small. It is the most widely grown group. Plants are small with good branching ability. Chromosomes number is 2n = 14, 16.


Kabuli or White Gram (Cicerkabulium): In this group the color of the seed is usually white. Grains are bold and attractive. Yield potential of this group is poor as compared to desi or brown gram. Plants are generally taller than the desi gram and stand more or less erect. The chromosome number is 2n = 16.



Chick pea is grown on a wide range of soils in India. In the north, gram is generally grown on moderately heavy soils. In Maharashtra and on the Deccan plateau, black cotton soils are used. Light soils, mostly sandy loams are preferred in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan. Though gram is grown on all kinds of soils, sandy loam to clay loam is considered to be most suitable. The best type of soil for chick pea is one that is well drained and not too heavy. On dry and light soils, the plants remain short while on heavy soils having high water retention capacity, the vegetative growth is abundant, light becomes limiting and fruiting is retarded. The soil chosen for its cultivation should be free from excessive soluble salts and near neutral in reaction. However, it is not suited to soils having a pH higher than 8.5.



Unlike cereals high yielding photo-insensitive cultivars are not available in pulses and this appears to be the most important reasons for low productivity of pulse crops in the country. However, several improved varieties of chick pea have been evolved in different chick pea growing states.

Table 1: High Yielding Varieties of Chick Pea Recommended for General Cultivation in Different states

State Recommended Varieties

Andhra Pradesh ICCV-2, ICCV-37, ICCV-4, ICCV-10

Assam KWR-108, BG-256, L-550, KPG-59

Gujarat Pusa-319, Vijay, ICCV-4, Pusa-240, GG-1, Pusa-1053

HaryanaHaryana Chana-1, GNG-469, Pusa-362, Gora Hisari, KarnalChana, Gaurav, H-208, H-335, Pusa-1053

Himachal Pradesh BBG-1, Haryana Chana-1, L-550

Jammu & Kashmir GNG-469, L-550, PBG-1, Haryana Chana-1

Karnataka BDN 9-3, ICCV-10, ICCV-2 Annegiri-1

Punjab PBG-1, GNG-469, Haryana Chana-1, Gaurav, L-550, C-235, G-543, Pusa-1053, GPF-2, PDG-3

Rajasthan GNG-416, GNG-469, GNG-663, PBG-1, L-550, Pusa-256, RSG-44, Pusa-1053, PDG 84-1

Tamil Nadu ICCV-10, BDN 9-3, CO-3, CO-4

Uttar Pradesh KWR-108, Avrodhi, BG-256, K-850, Pant G-186, Pusa-372, Radhey, JG-315, Uday (KPG-75), Pusa-1003, Pusa-1053

Madhya Pradesh JG-74, JG-315, Vijay, Pusa-256, Phule G-5, Pusa-1053

Maharashtra Vijay, Phule G-5, Vishal, ICCV-10, Pusa-1053

Orissa Radhey, ICCV-10, L-550, Pusa-372, Pusa-1003

West Bengal Pusa-372, KWR-108, KPG-59, BG-256, Pusa-1003

Bihar KWR-108, Avrodhi, BG-256, Pant G-114, Pusa-209, L-550, Pusa-1003

North Eastern States KWR-108, Avrodhi, KPG-59, BG-256

Seed treatment


To protect the crop from seedling diseases, it is recommended to treat seeds of kabulicultivars

withcaptan (Orthocide® 50 W) at 1.0 g kg-1 seed  The desitypes

can be treated with carbendazim (Bavistin®) at 1.5 g kg-1 seed

Chickpea seed treated with a combination of quintozene and thiram, each at 1.5 g kg-1 seed,

improved germination and seed yield without any adverse effect on nodulation


Chick pea is sown after the harvest of kharif crops. Chick pea in rotation with

cereal crops help in controlling soil borne diseases. The most common cropping systems are as below:


Kharif fallow-chick pea (in barani areas)


Rice-Chick pea


Pearl millet-Chick pea


Sorghum-Chick pea


Maize-Chick pea

Chick pea is grown mixed with wheat, barley, linseed, rapeseed and mustard crops. It is grown mixed with toria in Tarairegion.


Chick pea is highly sensitive to soil aeration. This imposes a restriction for its cultivation on heavy soils and calls for special care in seedbed preparation. A rough seedbed is required for chick pea. In case the chick pea crop is taken after a kharif fellow, it would be desirable to go for a deep ploughing during the monsoon as the same would help in larger conservation of rain water in the soil profile for subsequent use by this crop. Very fine and compact seedbed is not good for chick pea. If requires a loose and well aerated seedbed.


Date of sowing has been recognized as single non-monetary input affecting most the yield of chick pea in all chick pea growing areas. Experiments conducted under the All India Co-ordinated Pulse Improvement Project at different Centres over last several years have amply demonstared that second fortnight of October is the optimum time for sowing chick pea in most of the chick pea growing areas of northern India. For peninsular India, first fort night of October is the best time for chick pea sowing. Delay beyond this period results in conspicuous reduction in yield. Under humid sub-tropical conditions of Tarai, which are characterized by shallow water table and relatively more winter rainfall, first fortnight of November is most suitable. Early sowing of chick pea results in excessive vegetative growth and poor setting of pods. The early sown crop suffers more from wilt owing to high temperature at that time.

The crop may be sown by seed drill or local plough at a row spacing of 30-40 centimeters. A seed rate of 75-100 kg per hectare depending upon seed size may be sufficient for one hectare. The seed should be placed 8-10 centimeters deep because the shallow be treated with 0.25 per cent. Thiram or Carbendazim (Bavistin) before sowing.


Chick pea being a leguminous crop fulfills the major part of its nitrogen requirement (about 75%) through the process of symbolic nitrogen fixation which works effectively from three to four weeks after sowing. However, soils with low organic matter and poor nitrogen supply may require 20-25 kg per hectare of nitrogen as starter does which can meet plant requirement before the formation of nodules. Besides nitrogen, pulses respond very favourably to phosphorous application if the soils are deficient in phosphorous supply. If both nitrogen and phosphorous are required to be supplied then diammonium phosphate (18-46-0) at the rate of 100 to 150 kg per hectare should be applied uniformly before the last discingploughing. Responses to potassium application have been inconsistent. It is better if all the fertilizers are drilled in furrows at a depth of 7-10 centimeters.




Chick pea is mostly sown as a rainfed crop. However, where irrigation facilities are available, give a pre-sowing irrigation. It will ensure proper germination and smooth crop growth. If winter rains fail, give one irrigation at pre-flowering stage and one at pod development stage. In no case first irrigation should be given at flowering time of gram crop. A light irrigation should be given because heavy irrigation is always harmful to gram crop. Excess of irrigation enhances vegetative growth and depresses chick pea yield.


Chick pea being a stature crop suffers severely by infestation of weeds. One hand weeding or inter culture with hand hoe or wheel hoe after 25-30 days and second if needed after 60 days of sowing may take care of weeds. Fluchloralin (Basalin) 1 kg per hectare in 800-1000 liters of water as pre-planting spray may be used as an effective herbicide. It should be well incorporated in the soil before sowing. In case Basalin is not available use Metribuzin or Prometrynen at the rate of 1.0-1.5 kg active ingredient in 800-1000 liters of water per hectare as pre-emergence spray. Hand weeding or inter culture with the help of hoe is always better than herbicides because inter culture operations improve aeration in the soil.


The important diseases of chick pea are wilt, sclerotinia blight, grey mold, rust and Ascochyta blight. Symptoms of these diseases and their suitable control measures are given below:


The main cause of this disease is a fungus,Fusariumorthocerusthrough other fungi are also associated with this disease. This disease causes considerable loss in most of the gram growing regions. The symptoms of the disease may be seen in the seedling stage as well as in an advanced stage of plant growth. The leaves start yellowing and afterwards drying. The plants too become yellowish and finally dry out. Roots turn black and ultimately decompose.



Treat the seed with Benlate T or a mixture of Benlate of Thiram (1:1) at the rate of 2.5 g per kg of seed.


Grow the resistant varieties like C-214, Avrodhi, Uday, BG-244; Pusa-362, JG-315, Phule G-5 etc.


In fields having heavy incidence of gram wilt, the cultivation of chick pea should be avoided for three to four years.


As far as possible sowing of chick pea should not be done before third week of October.


Deep planting of chick pea about 8-10 centimeters deep in the light soils reduces the gram wilt incidence.

Sclerotinia Blight

It is caused by a gungusScleritiniasclerotiorum. This diseas causes losses in Punjab, Haryana and Wester Uttar Pradesh. The disease affects all the plants except the roots. The infection in the initial stage is visible on the stem near the ground. The affected plants first become yellow, then brown and ultimately dry out. On close observation, brown colored spots may be seen on affected stem which later girdle it. White cottony growth of the fungus with hard, black colored sclerotia may be seen on these spots on the stem.



Use only healthy seeds free from sclerotia.


Grow disease resistant varieties like G-543, Gaurav, Pusa-261 etc.


After harvest, the diseased plants should not be allowed to stand in the field but should be destroyed by burning.


Treat the soil with a mixture of fungicides like Brassicol and Captan at the rate of 10 kg per hectare.

Grey Mold

This disease is caused by a fungus Botrytis cinerea survives in the soil. This disease causes considerable damage in tarai area of Uttar Pradesh. Brown necrotic spots appear on twigs, petioles, leaves and flowers of the plant on attaining full vegetative growth. The branches and the stem also get affected parts. The affected stem finally breaks and the plant dies.



Plant the crop late i.e. first fortnight of November.


Spray the crop with 0.2% carbendazim (Bavistin).


This disease is caused by a fungus Uromycescicerisarietini. The disease is more severe in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. The symptoms are visible in early February. Small, round to oval, light or dark brown pustules are formed on the under surface of the leaves. The pustules later turn black. Afterwards, these pustules appear on upper surface of leaves, petioles, twigs and pods. The affected leaves pre-maturely fall and therefore the yield is considerably reduced.



With the appearance of first symptoms, spray the crop with 0.2% Mancozeb 75 WP followed by two more sprays at 10 days interval.


Plant only resistant varieties like Gaurav.


Ascochyta Blight

This disease is caused by Ascochytarabi, a fungus which survives on plant trash left in the soil. This is an important disease prevalent in Punjab and parts of Himachal Pradesh. All the plant part except the root is affected. Small round, yellowish-brown spots are seen on the leaves in the months of January and February. The spots also spread to petioles and branches where they are elongated and become dark brown in color. The affected plants finally dry up.



Plant only healthy seed. Before planting treat the seed with fungicides like Thiram or Carbendazim (Bavistin) at the rate of 2.5 g/kg of seed.


Follow three year crop rotation.


Plant resistant varieties/tolerant varieties like G-543, Pusa-256, Gaurav, GNG-146, PBG-1 etc.


Some of the important insect pests of chick pea with their control measures are given below:


Gram cutworm is a serious pest in low lying areas where fields are cloddy. The larvae of this insect remain hidden under these clods during the day time and cause damage during the night. The caterpillars cut the plants at ground level. The pest is sporadic in nature and can be controlled by the application of Lindane 6% granules at the rate of 20-25 kg per hectare mixed in the soil.

Gram Pod Borer

This is the most serious pest of chick pea and causes damage up to 75 per cent reduction in yield. The caterpillar not only defoliates the tender leaves but also makes holes in the pods and feed upon the developing grains. While feeding on the developing seeds the anterior body portion of the caterpillar remains inside the pod and rest half or so hanging outside. When seeds of one pod are finished, it moves to the next. Unless the pest is controlled in the initial stages of infestation it takes the heavy toll of the crop. As a matter of fact this pest is the most limiting factor in gram production.





Spray Monocrotophos (Nuvacron) 36 EC at the time of pod formation at the rate of 1 millilitre mixed in 1 liter of water. The amount of solution may vary from 600-800 liters per hectare. The spray should be repeated, if needed after 15 days.


Alternatively, spray Endisulfan 35 EC at the rate of 1.25 liters mixed in 1000 liters of water per hectare.

Crop becomes ready for harvest when leaves turn reddish-brown and start shedding. Plants are either plucked out by hand or cut with sickle. The crop is allowed to dry in sun on threshing floor for about five to six days. Thereafter, threshing is done either by beating the plants with sticks or by trampling under the feet of bullocks.



 Following care should be taken during harvest  


1)        Avoid use of pesticides prior to harvest.  


2)        Avoid over-maturity of crop.  


3)        Harvesting before the crop matures usually means a lower yield and also a higher proportion of immature seeds.  


4)        Timely harvesting ensures optimum grain quality and consumer acceptance.  


5)        Keep harvested crop for drying in the field.  


6)        Tag the bundles properly and keep at proper place.  


7)        Drying results in optimum moisture content in safe storage of produce over a longer period of time.  


8)        Avoid harvesting during adverse weather conditions. 



Chick pea has the potential to yield far higher than the national average. A well managed crop yields about 20-25 quintals of grain per hectare which is about three to four times higher than the national average.

Measures should be taken to avoid post-harvest losses. 



Use of proper method of harvesting.  


Adopt modern mechanical methods of threshing and winnowing.  


Use of improved technique of processing.  


Cleaning and grading of produce.  


Use of efficient and good packaging for storage as well as for transportation.  


Use of proper technique in storage.  


Use of pest control measures in storage.  


Proper care in handling of packages.  


Avoid use of hooks during handling.


Technologies for increasing production

Winter chickpea technology, developed by ICARDA for the Mediterranean region, has resulted in an estimated one million tonnes of additional chickpea production. In Turkey, an earlier sowing of chickpea by about four weeks in spring has been shown to increase yields by up to 25%. Advanced sowing dates are also now applied in California - USA, Chile and Australia. In addition, the use of broad beds, to avoid waterlogging, has permitted early sowing of ascochyta blight-resistant cultivars in Ethiopia to produce an increased yield of 25%.


50 million hectares of land in South and West Asia are currently left fallow following the harvesting of rice or wheat. It is estimated that much of this land could be brought under chickpea production as has been demonstrated by researchers in the Barind region of Bangladesh (see Focus On 99-4 'Seed priming') and in areas of Myanmar. Australian farmers have also begun to use fallow land following wheat production for legume cultivation, including chickpea.


Mechanization of sowing and harvesting has allowed large-scale farmers in Syria, Australia and the USA to increase chickpea cultivation. However, even simple funnel or mechanized seed drills can improve germination of seeds for small-scale farmers.



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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.