Chick peas are usually grown as a rainfed cool-weather crop or as a dry climate crop in semi-arid regions. Kabuli types are less tolerant than Desi types to dry conditions, as they require more moisture to achieve a satisfactory grain size and yield. Frost, hailstones, and excessive rains damage the crop. Relative humidity of 21 – 41% is optimum for seed setting.
Chickpea is grown on a wide range of soils in Pakistan. Gram is generally grown on moderately heavy soils, light soils, mostly sandy loams are preferred in Punjab i.e. Thal and Cholistan desert. 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 chickpea 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.
Chickpea 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 chickpea 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 chickpea but it requires a loose and well aerated seedbed.
Sowing Time and Sowing Method
Chickpeas are propagated from seeds. Sowing is usually done on conserved soil moisture. A pre-sowing irrigation may be needed, if the available soil moisture is not adequate for germination. Drilling is best sowing method of chick peas. Row x Row spacing 25 – 40 cm and plant x plant spacing 10 cm at the depth of 2 – 12 cm with soil well pressed down. Soil is worked into a rough tilth, clods broken and well leveled. Seed is sown from mid-September to mid-November and best time of sowing is 15th of October. Seeding rates vary from 30 – 40 kg per acre depending on the area and seed type. Chickpeas are also grown as a catch crop in sugarcane fields and often as a second crop after rice. Although usually considered a dry-land crop, chickpeas develop well on rice lands. In virgin sandy soils or for the first planting in heavier soils, inoculation is said to increase yield by 10 – 62%”.
In Pakistan there are two kinds of chickpeas are grown i.e. desi and Kabuli. A good gram crop in case of desi (black varieties) gives an output of 15 to 25 maunds yield per acre and in case of Kabuli varieties gives about 25 to 30 maunds yield per acre
Chickpeas are poor competitors with weeds because of their slow emergence and growth during winter. Effective weed control is essential for good yields and to avoid the buildup of troublesome weeds in the rotation. Management for broad leaf weeds needs to begin in the preceding cereal year because there are few options for in-crop control. In particular vetch and other self-sown pulses can be problematic weeds.
Chickpea 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. Roundup herbicide can apply as pre-planting spray may be used as an effective herbicide. Hand weeding or inter culture with the help of hoe is always better than herbicides because inter culture operations improve aeration in the soil and root zone.
Chickpea is the most drought tolerant crop and thus suited well for light textured soils. Pre irrigation is essential to fulfill the soil profile to get proper germination. Total crop water requirement is vary from 150 – 250mm for different areas in Pakistan.
Water logging at flowering or poding can kill the crop or significantly reduce yield, especially at higher temperatures. Drainage must be excellent and watering time as short as possible, preferably less than 8 hours and definitely less than 24 hours (in heavy soil). Irrigation with Sprinkler system should be controlled to reduce the chances of disease because sprinkler irrigation can cause of foliar diseases like Botrytis grey mould.
Chickpea is a legume. It has nodulation capability which can fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil, if seed is inoculated with bio-fertilizer using inoculants developed for nodulation of chickpeas. The bio-fertilizers for chickpeas are available with NARC and other establishments of PARC. 1.2 bags of inoculants are sufficient to treat the seed of one acre. High and effective nodulation on the roots of the chickpea is an important agronomic factor for enhanced productivity and fixation of atmospheric nitrogen into the soil. The genotypes are now available with high nodulation capacity and consequently with higher yields. One bag of DAP as phosphorous is recommended for one acre. Foliar application of liquid micro-nutrients (zinc and boron) is suggested based on the recommended dose for soils which are excessively exploited or low in fertility.