Learn how to make chickpea farming lucrative.
Chickpea cultivation history
The most significant pulse crop in India is the chickpea, Cicer arietinum, also known as Bengal gram and Chana. It's suitable for human consumption as well as cattle feed. It is mostly consumed because of its rich protein, fibre and potassium content. It can be eaten whole, fried, or boiled and salted, or in the shape of split pulses, which are cooked and eaten with recipes. Chickpeas are thought to have medicinal properties because they are used to treat high blood pressure, osteoporosis, colorectal cancer and heart disease. Chickpea mechanisation has become increasingly crucial in recent years, particularly during harvest.
Chickpeas are a winter crop, although they are sensitive to cold and frost. Frost during blossoming causes the flowers to fail to form seeds or causes seed death inside the pods. Chickpea returns are higher under irrigated settings than they are under rainfed conditions. Heavy crop loss can be caused by excessive rains immediately after sowing, during flowering and fruiting, or hail storms during the ripening period. It thrives in places with moderate rainfall of 60-90 cm per year. Chickpea plants are bushy and can reach a height of 18 inches. It thrives in temperatures of 70-80 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night.
In India, two varieties of chickpea are commonly grown: desi chana and kabuli chana. Desi chana is widely planted throughout the country, although the types available have small, darker seeds with a tough seed coat. Chana dal is made from green or speckled seeds that have been hulled and divided. Kabuli chana variants have a softer seed coat and are lighter in colour.
Chickpeas can be cultivated in a variety of soils in India, but they do best in sandy loam to clay loam. Chickpeas grow well in soils that are well-drained and not too heavy. Plants remain short on dry, light soils, whereas on heavy, water-retentive soils, vegetative growth is profuse, light becomes a limiting issue and fruiting is eventually delayed. Chickpea cultivation soil should be free of excessive soluble salts and reactionally near neutral. Waterlogged and saline soils, especially those with a pH of 8.5 or above, are not suited for cultivation.
Cultivation of Chickpeas
Field preparation for successful chickpea cultivation
Aeration of the soil is quite important for chickpea. Deep ploughing during the monsoon is recommended since it conserves moisture in the soil for later usage by this crop. The soil is ploughed with an animal-drawn/tractor-drawn blade harrow affixed to a big wooden log to maintain moisture while also aiding in weed control. Shallow cultivation with a country plough is typically done late in the evening for light soils to save moisture.
In most of northern India's chickpea-growing regions, the second week of October is the best time to sow. In peninsular India, the first two weeks of October are good for chickpea planting. Early chickpea seeding might result in excessive vegetative growth and poor pod set. Due of the high temperatures during the season, the early seeded crop is more susceptible to wilt.
Chickpeas are often farmed as a rain-fed crop. If the soil moisture isn't enough for sowing, irrigation after sowing can help with germination. Seed drills or local ploughs might be used to sow the crop. Sowing should be done at a depth of 5-10 cm with sufficient moisture, with an inter row spacing of 30 cm and an intra row spacing of 10 cm. Inter row spacing of 45 to 60 cm can be maintained if an irrigation supply is available and a bold seeded kabuli type is chosen. It's important to keep an average of 33 plants per square metre during sowing.
Seed Rate for Chickpeas
Medium size bold seed type, bold seeded type and high bold seeded type types each require 30-35, 45-50 and 60-70 kg seed per ha. Pesticides should be applied to seeds as directed. When growing chickpeas for the first time in the field, seed treatment with rhizobium should be done at a rate of 200 g of rhizobium (enough for 8 kg of seed) mixed thoroughly with 300 ml of 10% jaggery solution and shade dried before sowing. Before exposing the seed to rhizobium culture, always treat it with insecticides first.
Application of Manure and Fertilizer
Because chickpea is a leguminous crop, it may meet its own nitrogen needs (about 75 percent) three to four weeks after seeding through symbiotic nitrogen fixation in the soil. At the completion of field preparation, 5 tonnes of farm yard manure per hectare should be incorporated into the soil during the last plough. A Rotovator can also be used to incorporate previous crop leftovers into the soil. However, soils with low organic matter and a lack of nitrogen may still require 20-25 kg of nitrogen fertiliser per hectare. Aside from nitrogen, pulses respond well to phosphorus applications, particularly when 2 kg of Phosphobacter is mixed with 200 kg of organic fertiliser in the last plough or while sowing seeds.Chickpea should receive an average of 15-20 kg of nitrogen, 20 kg of phosphorus, 8 kg of potash and 40 kg of sulphur per hectare.
The Chickpea Plant's Water Requirement
Chickpeas are typically grown in rainy climates and require 350 mm of water on average. Where irrigation facilities are available, pre-sowing irrigation is important to guarantee appropriate germination and vegetative growth. One or two light irrigations should be applied during the crop cycle, depending on the soil moisture. Irrigation before flowering (30-35 days after sowing) and during the pod formation stage can increase yields (55-65 days after sowing). Excess watering boosts vegetative growth while lowering chickpea yield. To achieve higher yields, it is therefore vital to avoid water logging and maintain light irrigation.
Weeds can be controlled with one hand weeding or inter-culture using a hand hoe or wheel hoe after 25-30 days and a second if necessary after 60 days of sowing. Hand weeding or intercultural activities with a hoe are always preferable to pesticides because intercultural operations increase soil aeration.
Chickpea Harvesting and Threshing
Harvest when the leaves begin to wilt and shed, the pods turn yellow, the plants are dry and the seed feels firm and rattles within the pod. Chickpeas develop in three months and can be dried in the sun for a few days after harvesting to ensure that the seeds dry properly. Commercially accessible power threshers can be used for threshing and winnowing. Chickpea yields of up to 1.6 tonnes per acre are possible.