Development of a rating scheme to evaluate root nodulation in chickpea (Cicer arietinum)
Chickpea (Cicer arietinum) has become an important pulse crop in the Brown Soil Zone of the Canadian prairies with about one million acres (over 400 000 ha) seeded in Saskatchewan alone in 2001. As with most legumes, chickpea can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere when the plant forms active root nodules. Active root nodules are formed when the proper strain of Rhizobium bacterial inoculant is provided for the crop and together the plant and bacteria make a nitrogen fertilizer “factory”. Not enough active nitrogen-fixing root nodules can result in substantially decreased plant production and grain yield potential (Green and Biederbeck 1995). Root nodulation rating schemes have been developed for other legume crops and these have been useful for researchers and producers to evaluate production potential (Rice et al. 1977, Rice and Clayton 1996). The presently available schemes emphasize nodule number, size, colour and in some cases distribution of nodules throughout the root system as important factors for assessment. Preliminary field investigations have shown that existing root nodulation rating schemes are inadequate for use as tools to predict chickpea grain yield potential. The objective of this study was to develop a root nodulation rating scheme to assess the effective root nodulation of chickpea that may determine if maximum yield potential will be realized.
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