A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Chickpeas: Tips for a Successful Harvest

chickpea plant
chickpea plant

Chickpeas, also called Cicer arietinum in science, are a healthy food source and a lucrative crop for farmers. They are a desirable crop to cultivate due to their high protein content, diversity in cuisine, and rising demand.

Growing chickpeas is a wonderful experience and a great way to enjoy the health benefits of this nutrient-dense legume. Garbanzo beans, commonly known as chickpeas, have grown in popularity since they can be used in a variety of cuisines and have several health advantages. They are a vital component of any well-balanced diet because they are teeming with protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

Both commercial growers and backyard gardeners must comprehend the chickpea cultivation method. It not only makes it possible to produce food that is both affordable and sustainable, but it can also boost the local economy. Chickpea farming also encourages crop diversification, which is advantageous for the entire agricultural environment. This article will provide you with a thorough overview of how to cultivate chickpeas if you are thinking about starting a chickpea farm.

 The Basics 

 What are chickpeas?

The chickpea, often known as the chickpea, is a subfamily of the Fabaceae family of annual legumes. Its diverse varieties go by many names, including gramme, Bengal gramme, chhana, chana, or channa, garbanzo, garbanzo bean, or Egyptian pea. The most typical variety is round and beige in colour, however, there are also red, green, and black variations. Their nutrients have a number of health advantages. Protein levels in chickpea seeds are high. According to researchers, the Levant and ancient Egypt may have been the origins of chickpeas.

Varieties of chickpeas

Depending on your preferences and the growing circumstances where you live, there are a number of chickpea kinds from which to choose. Every variety has its own distinctive qualities, such as variations in size, shape, colour, and flavour. A successful crop depends on selecting the right variety. Desi and Kabuli are the two primary varieties. Desi varieties tend to be smaller, rougher-coated, and more flavorful. On the other hand, Kabuli types are bigger, have a smoother coat, and have a milder flavour. Other varieties include the Green and Black chickpeas.

  •  Desi chickpeas

Small, dark-coloured chickpeas with a rough exterior are known as Desi chickpeas. Both the Mediterranean region and the Indian subcontinent frequently cultivate them. Desi chickpeas are used in stews, curries, and roasted snacks. They have a nutty flavour. They do best in warm, well-drained areas.

  • Kabuli Chickpeas
chick-pea-wooden-bowl
chick-pea-wooden-bowl

Kabuli chickpeas are cream-coloured, smoother, and larger in size. They are widely used in salads and other Middle Eastern and North African meals, like hummus. Kabuli chickpeas are favoured for their softer texture and milder flavour when compared to Desi chickpeas. Compared to Desi chickpeas, they need a longer growing season and lower temperatures.

  • Green Chickpeas: Green chickpeas, often referred to as fresh chickpeas, are picked when the pods are still young, soft, and green. They taste mildly sweet and are a vivid green colour. Salads, stir-fries, and snacks frequently contain green chickpeas. They thrive in locations with a shorter growth season that is cooler.
  • Black Chickpeas: As their name suggests, black chickpeas are smaller and darker in colour than the other varieties. They are frequently cultivated in South Asia and have an earthy, deep flavour. Traditional curries and stews from Ethiopia and India frequently contain black chickpeas. They need moderate temperatures and well-drained soil for optimum growth.
 Nutritional benefits of chickpeas
chickpeas-homemade-soup
chickpeas-homemade-soup

Protein Powerhouse: Chickpeas are a fantastic plant-based protein source, making them the ideal food for vegetarians and vegans. The amount of protein in one cup of cooked chickpeas is actually about 15 grammes. Building and mending body tissues, promoting muscle growth, and sustaining general health all depend on protein.

Rich in Fibre: Dietary fibre is an important part of a balanced diet, and chickpeas are a great source. Both soluble and insoluble fibre, which have diverse functions in preserving our health, are present in them. Blood sugar levels are stabilised and cholesterol levels are reduced thanks to soluble fibre. Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, encourages digestive health and avoids constipation. Consuming fibre-rich foods like chickpeas helps support a healthy weight, control bowel movements, and promote weight management.

Abundance of Micronutrients: Chickpeas are a rich source of micronutrients, which are necessary for a variety of body processes. They are a great source of folate, commonly known as vitamin B9, which is essential for healthy foetal development and correct cell division throughout pregnancy. Manganese, which is abundant in chickpeas and is important for the maintenance of healthy bones, metabolism, and blood sugar levels. They also supply phosphorus, magnesium, and iron, all of which are necessary for preserving good health.

Low in Fat and Calories: Chickpeas are a great food to include in your diet if you’re trying to lose weight. Due to their high protein and fibre content, they are satiety-inducing despite being low in fat and calories. For people who wish to feel filled without consuming too many calories, this makes them the ideal food. With chickpeas, you can make a range of flavorful, nutritious recipes without sacrificing nutrition.

Heart-Healthy: Chickpeas’ heart-healthy qualities are a result of their nutritional makeup. Regular consumption of chickpeas, usually referred to as “bad” cholesterol, has been found in studies to help lower LDL cholesterol levels. Chickpeas are a heart-healthy dietary option since they include a high concentration of antioxidants, plant-based protein, and fibre.

Preparing to Grow Chickpeas

Choosing the right location

Sunlight is the primary prerequisite for growing chickpeas successfully. Although yields will be lower, they might survive in light shade. Choosing a location where there will be at least six hours of sunlight each day will help your chickpeas develop at their best.

Chickpeas grow best in soils with good drainage, so make sure any location you choose has recently been ground up to clear off any debris. Although they may adapt to a variety of soil types, they prefer environments with a pH of 5-7 that are slightly acidic or neutral. If your soil is heavy, Incorporate organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve soil structure and fertility. Conduct a soil test to determine its fertility and nutrient composition. Prepare the soil by removing weeds, rocks, and debris, and then plough or till the land to a depth of 6-8 inches.

 Gathering necessary supplies

Choose varieties of chickpea seeds that are appropriate for your region’s climate and growth circumstances. Some varieties of chickpea plants could need stakes or plant supports as they grow in order to provide extra stability and keep them from toppling over.

You’ll need simple gardening tools like a garden trowel, rake, and hoe to prepare the soil, plant, and care for the chickpea plants. Pruning shears or scissors will be useful, for trimming and harvesting the chickpea plants when they are ready. You might also wish to have gardening gloves and protective clothing to keep your hands and body protected depending on your gardening preferences and the type of soil.

Depending on the size of your garden, you may need a watering can or a hose with a sprinkler attachment to water your plants regularly. For convenient and regular irrigation, make sure a water source is close by.

 Planting Chickpeas

Depending on your area, chickpeas are often planted in late winter or early spring because they do best in milder climates. If your region has moderate winters, you can also plant them in the autumn. It’s vital to avoid sowing chickpeas in exceptionally hot conditions since they can find it difficult to germinate and grow. There are two planting methods for planting chickpeas which are direct sowing and transplanting seedlings:

Direct sowing:
  • Chickpea seeds are sown directly into the earth, where they will grow to maturity, using this method. This is the most popular method for planting chickpeas.
  • Get rid of the weeds and trash to prepare the soil. Make sure the soil has good drainage because chickpeas cannot tolerate wet circumstances.
  • Make beds or rows with adequate space between them maintaining a distance of about 2-4 inches (5-10 cm), to allow for access for maintenance and proper air circulation.
  • The seeds should be sown in the soil at the prescribed depth and spacing.
Transplanting Seedlings:
growing-sprouted-chickpea-for-transplant
growing-sprouted-chickpea-for-transplant
  • Chickpea seeds are sown indoors or in a greenhouse, and after sprouting into seedlings, they are moved into the garden. This process is known as transplanting.
  • Start seedlings in trays or biodegradable pots with a good potting mix inside.
    4-6 weeks after germination, seedlings can be transferred if they have produced a couple of sets of genuine leaves.
  • Before transplanting, gently expose seedlings to the elements outside to harden them off.

For direct sowing, chickpea seeds should be placed around 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) apart within the rows.
Chickpea seeds should be sown between 2.5 and 5 centimetres (1-2 inches) deep. Before planting, make sure the soil has been properly prepared, is free of clumps, and is suitably moist.

Caring for Chickpea Plants

 Watering

The soil must always be consistently moist to support the growth of chickpeas. Typically, a chickpea crop needs 25 cm of water, due to its extensive taproot which can draw water from lower levels of the soil profile. There is a chance of crop loss due to rotting if too much water is provided. Watering needs to be done based on the requirements and conditions of the soil. In locations with moderately warm summers, give the plants roughly an inch of water every week if it doesn’t rain. They require additional water in warmer regions until the top 2 inches of soil feel moist. To reach the root, water the plants slowly and deeply. Chickpeas are comparatively drought tolerant.

 Fertilizing

The nitrogen-fixing properties of legumes like chickpeas, indicate that they have the capacity to transform atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants can utilise. In most cases, they don’t need more nitrogen fertiliser. However, if the soil lacks certain nutrients, any fertiliser you use should be rich in micronutrients like phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium but low in nitrogen, which encourages leaf growth. If the soil is already rich and fruitful, you might not even require fertiliser, but only a thorough soil test carried out in a laboratory will tell you if and what the land needs. A little application of granular organic fertiliser every six weeks will encourage plant growth even without a soil test.

Mulching

Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants can help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Controlling pests and diseases

Like other legumes, chickpeas are susceptible to a number of bacterial and fungal blights, including Ascochyta blight, Rhizoctonia root rot, Pythium rot, Fusarium wilt, white mould, and some viruses that are spread by aphids. High humidity, warm temperatures, and a lot of rain frequently make many disorders worse.

  • The risk of pests and illnesses will be lower with a minimum four-year crop rotation, and the disease-survival residue from chickpeas will be broken down.
  • Use treated, disease-free seed. Various fungicides can also be used to treat the seed. Every day, new seed treatments are registered. Don’t plant seeds close to the pulse fields from the previous year.
  • If conditions are favourable for disease development, post-emergent fungicides can be sprayed prior to flowering and can be applied up to three times.
  • Since just a few herbicides have been approved for use on chickpeas, choosing a field that is largely weed-free is crucial. Before production, perennial weeds need to be controlled.

 Chickpea Growth Stages

Germination:
germinating-chickpeas
germinating-chickpeas

The first stage of chickpea growth is germination. The process starts when the seed takes in water and swells, which causes the radicle (embryonic root) and eventually the shoot to emerge. At this point, the seedling grows by using the energy that has been stored inside the seed.

 Vegetative growth:

This phase, which comes after germination, sees the development of the plant’s vegetative structures. In order to manufacture its own sustenance, the plant begins to grow leaves, stalks, and roots. While the shoot system extends upward to reach the light, the root system deepens and stabilises the plant.

 Flowering:

A critical phase of the chickpea reproductive cycle is flowering. When the plant has reached a specific level of maturity and the surrounding environment is favourable, it happens. On their stalks, chickpea plants have clusters of blooms. These blooms often come in shades of white, pink, or purple.

 Pod formation:

Successful pollination results in the development of pods from the fertilised blooms. The mature chickpeas are contained in multiple seeds that are found in each pod. As the seeds inside the pods grow and ripen, the pods progressively increase and change colour.

 Harvesting Chickpeas

Even though it takes them about 100 days to reach full maturity, you can harvest them earlier if you like to choose them “green.” The pods are ready to eat when they reach a length of about 1 inch. The chickpea pods are ready for harvesting when they turn brown and dry. Keep a close eye on the crop to gauge when harvesting is best, then pull the entire plant, including the roots. In a warm, dry, well-ventilated area, like a carport, place the plant on a flat surface. Continue letting it dry until the pods begin to split open and the seeds are visible. Dispatch the seeds from the pods.

The chickpeas need to be treated to get rid of any bugs and their eggs before being kept. Place the chickpeas on a baking sheet in a single layer, and bake them in the oven for 30 minutes at 160 degrees Fahrenheit to pasteurise them. Then keep the chickpeas in a cold, dry place in an airtight container.

Use automated harvesting equipment, if it is available, to expedite the process. After harvesting, allow the plants to fully dry out before storing or preparing the produce. Also, pick away any debris that may have remained.

 Tips for a Successful Chickpea Crop

chickpeas-seed
chickpeas-seed
 Companion planting

Companion planting is the practice of cultivating various plants side by side for mutual benefit. Companion plants that are appropriate for chickpea crops include:

Cilantro: Helps scare off pests like aphids and spider mites.

Basil: It makes chickpeas taste better and drives away some insects.

Marigolds: Marigolds release substances into the soil that keep nematodes away that could harm chickpeas.

Radishes: Help loosen up soil that has been compacted so that chickpea roots may develop more easily.

Vetch and clover: Help the soil fix nitrogen, which is good for the growth of chickpeas.

Crop rotation

Crop rotation is a technique that involves planting various crops in a predetermined order across a number of seasons in order to preserve soil health and prevent the development of pests and diseases. The following rotation choices should be taken into account for a successful chickpea crop:

Plant chickpeas after cereals like wheat or barley to break the cycle of disease and pest infestation. Rotate your crops with cereals.

Planting nitrogen-fixing legumes (such as clover or peas) before or after chickpeas can improve soil fertility.

Chickpeas should not be planted in the same location year after year since they are sensitive to some soil-borne diseases.

Common mistakes to avoid

Overwatering: Plants that tolerate drought well are chickpeas. Root rot and other problems might result from excessive irrigation. Water sparingly, especially during the flowering season, and make sure the soil drains well.

Over-planting in cold soil: Chickpea germination prefers warmer soil temperatures. Poor germination rates can result from planting in chilly soil too early.

Failing to prepare the soil: Remove weeds, make sure the soil has sufficient drainage, and if necessary, add organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure.

Neglecting pest and disease control: Aphids and Ascochyta blight are two frequent pests and diseases that affect chickpeas. Use pest management techniques like companion planting, and keep a constant eye on the health of the crop.

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How long does it take for chickpeas to grow?

Chickpeas typically take about 100 days to reach full maturity. However, you can choose to harvest them earlier if you prefer them “green.” Keep in mind that this duration may vary depending on factors like climate and specific chickpea variety.

2. Can chickpeas be grown in containers?

Yes, chickpeas can be grown in containers. Ensure the container is large enough to allow for proper root growth and use well-draining soil. Additionally, ensure that the container receives at least six hours of sunlight each day. Container-grown chickpeas can be a great option for those with limited garden space.

3. What are the common pests and diseases affecting chickpeas?

Chickpeas are susceptible to several common pests and diseases. Some of the pests to watch out for include aphids, which can be controlled through techniques like companion planting. As for diseases, Ascochyta blight is a prevalent issue. It’s important to monitor the plants regularly and employ preventive measures to manage these potential problems. Crop rotation can also help minimize the risk of disease infestation.

 


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