Optimum plant population density for chickpea in a semiarid environment
Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), an annual grain legume, is being rapidly included in cereal-based cropping systems throughout the semiarid Canadian prairies, but information on optimum plant population density (PPD) has not been developed for this region. This study was conducted from 1998 to 2000 in southwestern Saskatchewan to determine the impact of PPD on field emergence, seed yield and quality, and harvestability of kabuli and desi chickpea compared with dry pea (Pisum sativum L.). Seed yields of all legumes increased with increasing PPD when the crops were grown on conventional summerfallow. The PPD that produced the highest seed yields ranged from 40 to 45 plants m-2 for kabuli chickpea, 45 to 50 plants m-2 for desi chickpea, and 75 to 80 plants m-2 for dry pea. When the legumes were grown on wheat stubble, the PPD that gain optimum seed yield ranged from 35 to 40 plants m-2 for kabuli, 40 to 45 plants m-2 for desi chickpea, and 65 to 70 plants m-2 for dry pea. The proportion of large-sized (>9-mm diameter) seed in the harvested seed was >70% when the kabuli chickpea was grown on summerfallow regardless of PPD, whereas the large-seed proportion decreased with increasing PPD when the crop was grown on wheat stubble. Increases in PPD advanced plant maturity by 1.5 to 3.0 days, and also increased the height of lowest pods from the soil surface by 1.4 to 2.0 cm (or 5 to 10%), with desi type receiving the greatest benefits from increased PPD.
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