Chickpea pod infertility: a potential of improving seed yield
Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) is being rapidly adapted to the semiarid Canadian prairies, but little is known about morphological responses of this annual legume to growing conditions. This study, conducted in southwestern Saskatchewan, examined the morphological plasticity of three market classes of chickpea by growing the crop at four plant population densities. Chickpea grown at the high (50 plants m-2) population density produced approximately half as many fertile pods per plant as those grown at the low (20 plants m-2) density, but total number of pods per unit area increased with increasing plant population density. Large-seeded kabuli chickpea produced fewer pods per unit area, or <50% of that produced by small-seeded kabuli, and <60% of that by desi chickpea. Infertile pods accounted for 17 to 23% of the total pods for large-seeded kabuli, 9 to 12% for small-seeded kabuli, and 6% for desi chickpea. The pod infertility increased with increasing plant population density in both large- and small-seeded kabuli chickpea, but in desi chickpea it was consistently low across different population densities. The large-seeded kabuli produced <87 seeds for every 100 pods produced, whereas desi and small-seeded kabuli produced >110 seeds for every 100 pods. The yield potential of desi and small-seeded kabuli chickpea can be increased by increasing plant population density, whereas the seed yield of large-seeded kabuli can be improved by reducing the proportion of infertile pods.
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