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Chickpea – Storage and Grading



  • Proper chickpea storage management is important to prevent a grade decrease.
  • Handle chickpeas with care, using a conveyor instead of an auger if possible, as chickpeas are susceptible to breaking.
  • Chickpeas will darken and deteriorate in quality the longer they’re stored. This deterioration worsens if the seed moisture content, humidity, and temperature are high, so if you’re considering longer-term storage of up to 12 months, reducing storage temperatures and aerating your seed can help maintain its quality.
  • Regular bin probing and monitoring is required. It’s important to be cautious of weed seed dockage or green materials from volunteer crops, as they can cause heating (hot spots) if you cannot not get proper air flow through the bin.
  • Chickpeas often respire or go through a sweat after being placed in storage. Extra care should be taken to monitor the grain inside the bin for moisture build-up or spoilage, temperature, and for the presence of insects.
  • Moisture levels should be tested often for large kabuli chickpea types, because seed testing dry can sometimes hide seed with higher moisture levels internally in the grain mass. 
  • A variety of manual and automated systems are available to help keep track of seed condition.
  • If pulses require handling, they should be moved as little as possible, and handled gently to reduce chipping and splits. Use belt conveyors instead of augers. If using augurs, run the auger full and at reduced speeds. Use ladders on equipment to minimize the dropping of seed from more than a few feet.
  • Resource: See Long-Term Storage of Lentils, Peas, and Chickpeas.


  • Drying or aerating down to 14% moisture should be done gradually.
  • Chickpea seed becomes fragile if the seed moisture content goes below 13%, so take care to ensure seed moisture stays above that number.
  • If the seed moisture content must be reduced by 5°C or more, drying should take place in two stages.
    • With a hot air dryer, seeds should be dried to within 2% of final moisture content and then tempered in an aeration bin for at least 6 hours.
    • Afterwards, they should be cooled to the outdoor seasonal temperature. The slowness of this process prevents grain cracking.
  • Resource:  Improved Management of Stored Pulses, Research Update, August 2019, PAMI

Making the grade

Grading is done by the Canadian Grain Commission. Through the harvest sample program, farmers have the opportunity to send in harvested samples to the Grain Commission for grading. This grade can be compared with local buyer grades and may assist in marketing. 

Reference:  See Canadian Grain Commission Chickpea Grading Factors

See Chickpeas:  Primary and Export Grade Determinants Tables



  • Most Canadian chickpea production is sold to the Middle East, India, Pakistan and to South America. Currently, two types of chickpea are grown in Canada:
    • kabuli – larger types used for human consumption
    • desi – smaller types that are ground up into meal
  • An increase in the estimated production of chickpea and the need for quality assurance of the crop led to the need for a grade schedule for this commodity.
  • Kabuli had been graded by using a “Bean” category, but this method is not suitable for desi varieties.

Grading factors


  • There are two classes of chickpeas, kabuli and desi.
    • Kabuli chickpeas are typically whitish to light tan in colour however there are new varieties that are black or green in colour.
    • Desi chickpeas are typically brown in colour and smaller than kabuli.
  • The class of chickpea forms part of the grade name; for example, “Chickpea, No. 1 CW Kabuli”.
  • The method of determining the class of a chickpea is by the size and colour of the chickpea.


  • Dockage is any material intermixed with the grain, other than the grain, that must and can be separated from the parcel of grain before a grade can be assigned. 
  • Dockage is assessed only on unprocessed samples (referred to as the uncleaned or dirty sample) and is assessed on the gross weight of the sample.
  • Dockage is removed by cleaning procedures and then assessed and recorded to the nearest 0.1%.
  • Slotted sieve cleaning equipment are used, depending on seed size.
  • Dockage is not reported for samples grading:
    • “Chickpeas, Sample CW (class) Account Fireburnt”
    • “Chickpeas, Sample Salvage”
    • “Chickpeas, Sample Condemned”.
  • For procedures used, refer to Canadian Grain Commission, Chickpeas: Determination of Dockage.
  • Primary samples are considered commercially clean when they contain no dockage material.


  • Green is chickpea that when cut in half, is a distinct green throughout. Pale green or immature seeds are taken into account in the evaluation of colour.
    • Kabuli chickpeas are considered green if they show any green colour of any size area anywhere on the seeds or seed coats.
    • Desi chickpeas are considered green if they show distinctly green colour throughout the seed when cut to expose the cotyledons.
  • Deductions are implemented if immature green seeds comprise more than 0.5% in kabuli and 1% in desi chickpeas.


  • Colour is a grade determinant only in the kabuli class.  Colour is assessed after the removal of damaged chickpeas and chickpeas assessed as green.
    • Good natural colour: chickpea that is sound, well matured and has a uniform normal colour.
    • Fair colour: chickpea that is immature, but not green, has moderate amounts of adhered soil, is lightly stained or otherwise moderately discoloured from natural causes.
    • Poor colour: chickpea that does not meet the definition of fair colour.


  • Damaged chickpeas include whole or broken chickpeas that are sprouted, frost damaged, heated, damaged by insects, distinctly deteriorated or discoloured by weather or by disease, or that are otherwise damaged in a way that seriously affects their quality.
  • Frost-damaged chickpeas which are green are considered green, whereas frost-damaged chickpeas with no green colour are considered damaged. 
  • Cracked seed coats is chickpea with visibly cracked seed coats – if the chickpea is otherwise damaged, it is included in the tolerance for damage (not cracked seed coats).
    • Chickpea with all or part of the seed coat removed.
    • Broken chickpea with less than one fourth of the chickpea broken off is considered as damage.
  • Splits include split chickpea, broken pieces that are less than three quarters of the whole seed and halves that are loosely held together by the seed coat. Mechanical damage including splits include whole chickpeas with more than 10% of the chickpea broken off and split chickpeas.
  • Mechanical damage including splits includes whole chickpeas with more than 10% of the chickpea broken off, and split chickpeas.


  • Odour – there is no numeric tolerance for odour. Consider the basic quality of the sample, the type and degree of the odour, and the presence of visible residue causing the odour.
    • A distinct objectionable odour not associated with the quality of the grain, but not a heated odour and not a fireburnt odour, is graded as “Chickpeas, Sample Canada Western (CW) (class) Account Odour”.
    • Heated – chickpeas that have dull seed coats and discoloured cotyledons ranging from light tan to dark brown are considered heated. Heated seeds of other grains are included in the tolerance for damage. A distinct heated odour is graded to “Chickpeas, Sample CW (class) Account Heated”.
    • Fireburnt – Fireburnt seeds have been charred or scorched by fire. No fireburnt seeds are allowed in chickpea. There is a distinct fireburnt odour, they are graded to “Chickpeas, Sample CW (class) Account Fireburnt”.


  • Foreign material includes any material other than chickpea or split chickpea not removed by normal cleaning procedures.  These can include: other classes of chickpeas, other grains and seeds, Ergot and Sclerotinia, mineral matter, stones and earth pellets, and any other material not removed by normal cleaning.
  • Earth pellets: 
    • Hard earth pellets are pellets or stones that do not crumble under light pressure.
    • Soft earth pellets are pellets that crumble under light pressure.
  • Stones are hard shale, coal, hard earth pellets, and other non-toxic materials of similar consistency. Stones are handpicked from a representative portion of the cleaned sample, and the stone concentration is determined in the net sample.
    • Fertilizer pellets are assessed as stones when constituting 1.0% or less of the net sample weight.
    • Samples containing fertilizer pellets > 1.0% are graded “Chickpeas, Held IP Suspect Contaminated Grain”. 
  • Ergot is a plant disease producing elongated fungus bodies that have a purplish-black exterior, a purplish-white to off-white interior, and a relatively smooth surface texture.
  • Excreta is excrement from any animal including mammals, birds, and insects.
  • Insect parts refer to pieces of insects such as grasshoppers and lady bugs that remain in the sample after cleaning or processing. 
    • Samples are analysed for the percentage of insect fragments and graded according to established tolerances.
    • Insects may also result in seed staining and earth adhering to the seed and may result in samples having an objectionable odour (see odour grading).
    • Samples containing staining will be considered to be earth tagged and graded according to colour definitions.
  • Sclerotinia sclerotiorum is a fungus producing hard masses of fungal tissue, called sclerotia. The sclerotia vary in size and shape, have a course surface texture, vary in exterior colour from dark black to gray to white and have a pure white interior.


  • Treated seed is grain that has been coated with an agricultural chemical for agronomic purposes.
  • These seed dressings contain a dye to render the treated seed visually conspicuous.
  • The colour of the dye varies depending upon the type of treatment and the type of grain.
  • The current Canadian colour standards for pesticide seed treatments in cereals are pink or red.
  • Seed treated with an inoculant may have a green stain.
  • The coatings or stains may appear greasy or powdery and surface area distribution ranges from tiny flecks to complete coverage.


  • Contaminated is defined in the Canada Grain Act as: “Contaminated means, in respect of grain, containing any substance in sufficient quantity that the grain is unfit for consumption by persons or animals or is adulterated within the meaning of the regulations made pursuant to sections B.01.046(1), B.15.001 and B.15.002(1) of the Food and Drugs Act.”
  • Samples deemed to be contaminated by the Grain Research Laboratory in consultation with the Chief Grain Inspector for Canada are graded “Chickpeas, Sample Condemned”.
  • If a sample is suspected of being coated with a pesticide, desiccant, inoculant or if the sample contains evidence of any foreign chemical substance other than fertilizer pellets, the sample shall be graded “Chickpeas, Held IP Suspect Contaminated Grain”.


  • Earth-tagged seed has dirt attached that cannot be removed.
  • Although chickpeas are a bit taller, pay attention to cutting height to reduce the risk of earth tag (or soil) on the seeds.
  • To reduce earth tag in chickpea, follow these management tips:
    • Select a variety with a good harvest rating.
    • Roll your chickpeas before crop emergence to eliminate ridges and an uneven seed bed, as this approach will minimize dirt entering the combine (normal plant dust will not adhere to a chickpea coat, but combined soil will).
    • Use glyphosate for pre-harvest weed control when seed grain moisture is less than 30%. 
    • Prior to applying glyphosate, check with potential buyers and Keep it Clean to mitigate risk. 
    • Use a desiccant at 30% grain moisture content to even out crop drydown and eliminate green weed material. Green material is either green weeds or green chickpea plant material that will increase the level of earth tag on the seed.
    • Combine when seed moisture content reaches 18%.