Managing high quality chickpea crops

Posted in Agronomy alert on May 20, 2015

Scouting for signs of ascochyta blight on chickpea plants needs to begin 4 to 6 weeks after emergence and continue throughout the season, even in resistant varieties.

Managing high quality chickpea crops

by Gordon Cumming, Pulse Australia, National Development Manager

A combination of solid market indicators and good soil moisture levels in many grain growing districts in Queensland and northern NSW has prompted growers to seriously consider increasing the area planted to chickpeas this season.

There could be as much as a 15 per cent increase in sown area above the 5-year average for the northern grains region and although this is great news for the industry there is potential for input supplies to be tight.

The supply of desi chickpea seed and some pre-emergent herbicides has been very tight leading up to planting and there may also be restricted supplies of some crop protection products such as fungicides and insecticides during the season.

Pre-purchasing some inputs for use later in the season to avoid potential delays or lack of supply at critical times may be worthwhile. Discuss your requirements for the whole season with your supplier to help them respond to the expected high demand for crop inputs this season.

With desi chickpea set to be worth a considerable amount this season, investments in crop protection are likely to be very cost effective. This investment needs to be in good and timely advice and application of sprays.

An experienced agronomist or a knowledgeable grower monitoring the crop at critical times can maximise yield potential and grain quality. Start inspections for signs of ascochyta blight from emergence onwards with critical periods being around 4 to 6 weeks after planting through flowering and podding. Inspect the crop 10 to 14 days after a rainfall event following a ‘V’ or ‘W’ pattern in a number of locations in each paddock.

Different fungicide spray programs have been developed and are based on each variety’s ascochyta rating. Chickpea ascochyta fungicides are protectants only so, unlike wheat stripe rust fungicides, they have no systemic or kick-back action and will not eradicate an existing infection. To be effective they must be applied prior to the next infection event, that is before the next likely rainfall event.

The key to a successful ascochyta spray program therefore is regular monitoring combined with timely application of registered fungicides.

Application of crop protectants is usually very time critical so it pays to have gear ready to respond without delay. The correct boom spray set-up for fungicide application requires nozzles selected to produce a medium spray quality pattern and higher volume (at least 80 L/ha).

Discuss your specific requirements with your advisor or agronomist.

Detailed information concerning disease management strategies can be found in a series of ‘Northern Pulse Bulletins’ on the Pulse Australian website by clicking on the ‘Publications’ button or feel free to call me on 0408 923 474 to discuss your needs further.

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