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Major strategies to enhance Chickpea productivity

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Major strategies to enhance Chickpea Productivity

             Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) is the third most important food legume crop worldwide. It is an important grain legume in many developing countries. The total annual world production is 8.4 million tonnes, India and Pakistan are the two major countries contributing more than 75% of the world’s production annually. The world mean grain yield of about 0.8 t ha1 is small compared to other major legume crops.   Nearly 66% of the world acreage and 67% of the global chickpea production is from India alone

Chickpea area, production and productivity trends in India

Major strategies for enhancing chickpea productivity

Important strategies to enhance production and productivity in the state are i) High yielding varieties ii) Sowing time iii) Irrigation iv) Short duration varieties v) Integrated management of pest and diseases vi) Method of sowing.

i)     High yielding varieties:

Selection of a suitable variety for a given environment forms an important production technology. The improved varieties play an important role in increasing production and productivity of chickpea. There is large number of improved varieties released for different agro-climatic zones of the country. Chickpea varieties released for the state or agro-climatic condition should be chosen to realize higher yield.

ii)   Sowing time:

The time of sowing plays an important role in deciding its productivity. Generally the crop experiences terminal heat and moisture stress in majority of the chickpea growing states of the country. This results in reduction in duration of flowering and grain filling period and as a result reduced grain yield. Hence, to avoid end of season moisture and heat stress and to harvest good crop, early sowing is advantageous. Early sowing helps in proper germination, plant stand and better crop establishment. In a field experiment conducted at IARI’s centre for Pulse Improvement, Dharwad, grain yield advantage of early sowing (October first week) over mid-October sowing was about 57% (Table 3) The yield advantage of early sowing over normal sowing was more than 50% in all varieties irrespective of their plant type, seed size and growth duration.

Table 3. Grain yield (kg/ha) of chickpea varieties as influenced by sowing time, rabi 1999-2001


Grain yield (kg/ha)

Percent increase

Early sowing

October sowing

Annigeri 1








JG 11












iii) Irrigation:

Chickpea is generally grown as a rainfed crop. However, it is responsive to irrigation at critical growth stages of the crop. Based on the availability, two irrigations may be given at maximum branching and pod formation stage. Irrigation at the time of flowering should be avoided.  Excess irrigation enhances vegetative growth and decreases chickpea grain yield.

In a field trial of varieties conducted by the IARI Centre Dharwad under irrigated late sown conditions in Malaprabha Command Area, Karnataka, the average grain yield produced was 1,817 kg/ha (Table 4). These varieties produced about 1200-1500 kg/ha under rainfed conditions and the advantage of irrigated chickpea over rainfed crop was 300-600 kg/ha grain yield.

Table 4. Grain yield (kg/ha) of chickpea varieties under irrigated conditions, rabi  1999-2001.


Grain yield (kg/ha)


100-seed weight (g)

BGD 72








Annigeri 1




iv)  Integrated management of pest and diseases:

In order to overcome the problem of soil borne pathogens treat the seed with fungicides and biocontrol agents. The seeds may also be inoculated with bio-control agent Trichoderma viride to overcome the problem of chickpea wilt. Seeds should be treated with fungicide like capton, thiram or mancozeb before 2-3 days in advance. Simultaneous treatment of seed with fungicide and bio-agents should be avoided.

To protect the crop from pod borer damage spraying of nucleopolyhedrovirus or NPV formulation is recommended. Installation of bird perches in the field to control the pod borer found to be effective. These bird perches should be removed at the time of grain formation.

v)    Method of sowing

In chickpea apart from selecting high yielding variety for cultivation and suitable plant protection measures, improved agronomic practices play significant role in enhancingthe grain yield productivity. The paired row system of sowing found to increase the grain yield productivity of chickpea varieties by 10-15% under rainfed conditions. The method has other advantages like lower seed rate, easy inter-cultivation and plant protection practices.

Important tips for higher yields of chickpea

  • Use good quality seeds from an authentic source
  • Use high yielding varieties recommended for the area
  • Use recommended doses of fertilizers and micronutrients as per need
  • Adjust seed rate according to the seed size of the variety chosen and time of sowing. Under timely sown conditions, the optimum seed rate is 70-80 kg/ha. for varieties having 15-18 g/ 100 seeds. Under late sown conditions it is desirable to use about 25% more seed
  • Always treat the seed with fungicide 2-3 days in advance and Rhizobium culture 10-12 hours before sowing
  • Timely sowing when there is optimum soil moisture for uniform germination and to maintain optimum plant population
  • Provide pre-sowing irrigation wherever possible and required
  • Drill sowing found to be advantageous under rainfed condition
  • Apply 10-20 kg Sulphur and 20 -25 kg Zinc Sulphate in addition to the recommended doses of fertilizers
  • Provide two irrigations wherever possible at critical stages of crop growth (before flowering and at maximum pod formation). Do not irrigate the crop during flowering
  • Protect the crop from pod damage by practicing integrated pest management
  • Don't put bird perches in the field at the time of grain formation
  • Sun drying of grains before bagging/storage to maintain optimum seed moisture content.
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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.