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Chickpea – Seeding

Chickpeas fit well into a direct seeding crop system under both minimum and no-till soil management. For best results, follow the recommendations in this section on selecting a site, seeding management, residue management, inoculation and fertilization. For control of weeds, please seed Weed Control.

Seeding Equipment

Site Selection


  • Proper field selection and preparation for chickpeas provides seed with the best environment for rapid germination and emergence, allows roots to grow quickly and absorb nutrients, and provides the conditions necessary for good weed control.
  • Chickpeas require warm, moist soil conditions for germination and emergence. The soil must be prepared so it warms rapidly, but still retains as much moisture as possible.
  • Chickpeas prefer well-drained land or soil with lighter texture. Choose level fields that have good drainage.
  • Select fields to encourage early crop development.
  • Research at Swift Current from 1996 to 1998 and in 2000 determined that seeding into tall (25 to 36 cm, 9.8 to 14 inches) standing stubble increased chickpea yields by 9% as compared to short (15 to 18 cm, 5.9 to 7 inches) standing stubble. Pod height was also increased with tall stubble.


  • Avoid saline soils and choose a field that has medium-textured loamy soils with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH of 7.0 to 8.0.
  • Avoid fields that have a history of weed problems, as chickpeas do not compete well with weeds or volunteer crops.

Maintain good records

  • Keep good records on herbicides used in previous crops – some leave residues that will injure the chickpea crop. Always read the herbicide label and pay close attention to re-cropping restrictions.




  • Superior seed quality is needed for successful chickpea production. 
  • Use seed with both high germination and vigour, and is disease free.   
  • It is important to have seed tested by an accredited seed-testing laboratory to determine percentage of germination, seed purity, and seed-borne disease levels.
  • Note – a 1,000 seed test provides a more accurate test of seed-borne diseases than the standard 400-seed test.
  • Application of certain herbicides prior to harvest can also affect seed germination and/or vigour. Seed from fields treated with pre-harvest glyphosate should be avoided.


  • Chickpeas are relatively tolerant to spring frosts, but for optimal germination, seed chickpeas in warmer soil with good moisture content.
  • Late April (desi) to early May (kabuli).
  • Most chickpea varieties are late maturing. Management of maturity is critical to optimize crop quality.
  • Encourage early crop development, including seeding into standing stubble prior to May 15.


  • 2–3 inches (5–7 cm)



  • 44 plants per square metre
  • Seeding rates range from 90-105 kg/ha (80 95 lb./ac.) for desi types to 135-210 kg/ha (120 190 lb./ac.) for kabuli types. The desired plant population is 33-44 seedlings/m2 (3-4/ft.2).
  • Crop stands of this density provide better competition against weeds and will result in more uniform maturity and higher yields.


  • 3,300 (desi) to 6,200 (kabuli) seeds per pound.
  • Thousand Kernal Rate (TKR) varies between market classes, in general ranging from 200 grams/1000 seeds for desi, and 370 grams/1000 seeds for kabuli.


  • 7˚ C (desi) to 10˚ C (kabuli)

Other Considerations


  • As with other larger seeded pulse crops, chickpea is susceptible to seed damage when air velocity with air seeders is high.
  • Seed drills and air seeders can, however, be used effectively when seeding chickpea if ground speed is kept low and air velocity is just high enough to avoid line plugging.


Land Rolling

  • Land rollers are less beneficial in chickpea production than in pea and lentil production, since chickpea does not usually lodge and the stubble height is greater.
  • Rolling of chickpea fields should only be done before crop emergence.
  • Post-emergent land rolling is not recommended, as it may:
    • Spread disease such as ascochyta blight; and
    • Can cause mechanical injury because chickpea seedlings develop stiff stems early in their development.
  • Refer to Government of Alberta Land Rolling Guidelines for Pulse Crops in Western Canada
  • Tips for Rolling your Pulse and Soybean Crops



CHICKPEA – Seed Quality Testing and Evaluation

It is important to have seed tested by an accredited seed-testing laboratory for germination, purity, and seed-borne disease.

Desi Seed, Kabuli Seed


  • Germination testing is one method for evaluating seed lots for quality.
  • Germination addresses the seed’s ability to develop into a normal, healthy plant under favourable field conditions.
  • This testing can be misleading because seed may germinate well in the lab due to optimum conditions being present or to the fact that the seed has every opportunity to develop into a normal healthy seedling.


  • Vigour testing, another method, assesses the seed’s potential to withstand unfavourable field conditions by assessing certain factors that influence seed quality.
  • While vigour results represent the lowest germination obtained from the lot, germination testing represents the highest result. Actual field germination would normally fall between the two.

variables impacting seed quality

  • Germination and vigour are influenced by the physiological well-being and anatomical completeness of the seed plus its interaction with a wide range of environmental conditions.
  • Seed vigour is affected by:
    • genetic constitution
    • seed size and weight
    • mechanical integrity and soundness
    • deterioration, aging and stage of maturity
    • pathogens
    • climatic conditions

combined testing

  • In years where unfavourable weather conditions prevail, it is best to combine a vigour test with a germination test to determine seed quality and performance more accurately.
  • Be sure germination results include adequate categorization of the seedling defects and the seedling’s ability to survive adverse conditions.
  • It’s impossible to predict post-seeding conditions with a vigour test, so seed is placed under a variety of stressful conditions, simulating climatic conditions as closely as possible, including:
    • cold temperatures
    • wet conditions
    • micro-organisms
    • seed soaking
    • accelerated aging.
  • Under these conditions, the seed must demonstrate the ability to germinate into a vigorous seedling.


  • Seed vigour is measured by the Electrical Conductivity Test to assess mechanical damage and evaluate seed lots that remain vigorous during storage.
  • Testing for vigour is an important tool if it is suspected that seed has sustained some injury or that the soil environment will impose stress on the seed.
  • Research has established a correlation between the Electrical Conductivity Test and actual field results.
  • Chickpea is very susceptible to mechanical injury, such as cracking and chipping, either at harvest or during processing. Small seed coat cracks result in rapid water intake that leads to dead seed cells – this dead tissue then becomes a source of food for invading pathogens.
  • Vigour tests must be combined with germination tests to predict field performance.
  • The seed may also require 1,000 seed weight and disease tests to completely assess the seed’s total quality.

TESTING for seed borne diseases

  • Contamination from seed-borne diseases should be as low as possible. Seed-borne Ascochyta easily transmits to seedlings in the field and only seed with close to zero percent seed-borne Ascochyta should be used.
  • Application of certain herbicides prior to harvest can also affect seed germination and/or vigour. Seed from fields treated with pre-harvest glyphosate should be avoided.


(These are guidelines only and should be considered along with farming practices and level of disease risk for the situation)


Tolerance and Factors Affecting the Level

(Ascochyta rabiei)

  • Use with seed less than 0.3% Ascochyta infection.
    Even though a seed test may indicate 0% infection, the seedlot may still contain infected seed and seed treatment is recommended.
  • Seed-to-seed transmission of Ascochyta blight is high in chickpeas. The disease is very aggressive and can spread quickly in a field once established.

Seed Rots and Damping-off

  • These are soil-borne diseases and are not tested for at seed testing labs.
  • The use of seed treatment is strongly recommended for kabuli varieties.

Seed Rots and Seedling Blights

  • Sclerotinia, Rhizoctonia, and Fusarium are primarily soil-borne. Botrytis and Fusarium are also often seed-borne and can be tested for at seed testing labs.
  • Up to 10% infection (Sclerotinia and Botrytis) may be tolerable, but will result in significant seedling blight if a seed treatment is not used.


  • New seed treatments are continually being registered. Contact your agri- retailer for updated information on seed treatments. Always refer to the product label before applying product to the seed.



  • Seed-to-seedling transmission of Ascochyta blight is high in chickpeas and seed treatment is usually recommended.


  • In the Brown and Dark Brown soil zones, seed testing 0% to 0.2% Ascochyta infection is suitable for planting, but all seed should be treated with fungicide controlling Ascochyta as even a 0% result may contain some infected seeds at a lower frequency than what was detectable by the lab.


  • Kabuli varieties, with their thinner seed coats, should always be treated for seed/seedling diseases and seed-borne Ascochyta.  
  • Kabuli chickpeas have a very thin, cream-coloured seed coat and are susceptible to Pythium seed rot. The use of seed treatment is recommended to protect kabuli from this disease.
  • Desi chickpeas, which have a thick seed coat and tannins in the seed coat, do not usually require a seed treatment to protect it from Pythium, although it too is susceptible to other seed and seedling rots and blights.


  • Seed treatment for control of insect pests in chickpeas are much more limited. There are treatments registered for use on chickpeas for wireworm control.
  • Certain fungicides and insecticides may be harmful to inoculants. Check the label of both the inoculant and the seed treatment to ensure compatibility.
  • For optimum results, seed treated with a fungicide should be dried prior to applying nitrogen-fixing inoculant.
  • Once inoculated, plant as soon as possible, as delays can reduce the seed efficacy of the inoculant.
  • The use of granular inoculant will avoid any problems with direct contact between seed treatment and inoculant.

Residue Management


  • Use proper straw and chaff management in the fall before seeding a chickpea crop is critical.
  • Heavy straw conditions can create seeding problems such as hair pinning with disc openers or plugging between the shanks of an air seeder.
  • Hair pinning refers to a condition where the seed is pushed down onto the straw layer by the opener, creating a wicking effect, where there is poor seed-to-soil contact and, as a result, patchy or poor germination of the chickpea crop.
  • Thick layers of chaff may also cause phytotoxicity to the next crop. 
  • Phytotoxicity is the phenomenon of reduced growth and yields of the next year’s crop due to toxic compounds leached from the residue and/or microbial activity that produces toxic compounds during breakdown of the residue.

Direct Seeding Considerations

  • Direct seeding is usually defined as seeding into standing stubble, but can also be referred to as reduced tillage.
  • Even and wide distribution of residue with a durable straw chopper and chaff spreader is vital.
  • To avoid plugging shanks, stubble height should be the same or less than the shank spacing of the seeding tool.


  • Proper rotational planning can also assist in managing heavy residue:
    • avoid planting high-residue crops back-to-back
    • include forages in the crop rotation
    • periodically bale and remove straw