Southern farmers planning to grow chickpeas must be prepared to treat their crops with fungicide to ensure a harvest.
This is the clear message from Birchip Cropping Group research supported by growers and the Federal Government through the GRDC.
Two trial sites (Hart in SA and Rupanyup in Victoria) showed that the only successful fungicide regime to ensure an economic yield was Bravo applied every three weeks, at either 1 or 2 L/ha rate.
The 2 L rate performed significantly better, but even at this rate there was still some infection on leaf material and pods. No treatment provided total control.
The virulence of Ascochyta rabiei in the Wimmera and mid-north of South Australia during 1999 was such that, without good control methods, wide-scale chickpea production would cease in these areas. The 1998 outbreak devastated most chickpea crops.
Trade-off: variety and cost
At 1999 and 2000 prices, only Kabuli chickpeas appeared to be worth growing, due to the cost of fungicide application. If fungicide costs increase and chickpea prices decrease, chickpea will not be profitable.
Program 2.4.2 Contact: Ham Van Rees 03 5439 3089
But look ahead — new chickpeas soon Chickpea varieties with Ascochyta blight resistance should be available commercially by 2003, according to Trevor Bretag of Agriculture Victoria.
Dr Bretag said GRDC-supported seed production of resistant lines is being fast-tracked by using facilities in Victoria and NSW.
The first two new varieties to be released would be desi types followed by a kabuli type in 2005.