Evaluating the Agronomic Potential of Chickpea Germplasm for Western Nebraska
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The chickpea or garbanzo bean (Cicer arietinum L.) shows promise as an alternative crop for Nebraska because it fits well with existing equipment, processors, and infrastructure. Initially chickpea production grew rapidly in Nebraska, but it declined in recent years because of Ascochyta blight [Ascochyta rabiei (Pass.) Labr.] and concern about the variability in yield, seed size, pest resistance, and quality of current varieties. Therefore, we evaluated existing chickpea germplasm (Western Regional Chickpea Trial provided by USDA-ARS, Pullman, WA) under irrigated and dryland conditions at 11 environments in western Nebraska during 2005 to 2007 to identify lines that are well adapted to this region, have desirable yield and quality characteristics, and are resistant to Ascochyta blight. This paper reports findings of the agronomic characteristic portion of the study. CA0090B347C and W6 17256 were the top yielding entries under both irrigated and dryland conditions and showed some resistance to Ascochyta blight however, their seed size did not meet commercial standards. Nevertheless, these lines show promise as parental germplasm for ongoing breeding efforts. 'Sierra', a commercial cultivar, may be an acceptable alternative, though fungicides treatments will likely be needed to control blight. During these trials, only irrigated production was economically viable. Returns from the higher yielding entries were competitive and if achieved on a consistent basis would make chickpea a viable crop for this region. For dryland production to be feasible, the cost of production needs to be reduced and/or varieties need to be developed with improved yield and seed size under limited moisture conditions. 2010 by the American Society of Agronomy.