Growers urged to weigh up back-to-back chickpea risks

Author: Sarah Jeffrey | Date: 25 Feb 2016

Man kneeling in crop field

New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) senior plant pathologist Dr Kevin Moore says large scale crop losses could occur this year if conditions favoured the development of diseases like ascochyta blight, phytophthora root rot and sclerotinia rot.

Photo: Image supplied by NSW DPI

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is urging growers to resist the temptation to plant back-to-back chickpea crops this winter to capitalise on a bullish chickpea market.

Attractive new crop chickpea prices have left some growers weighing up whether to run the risk of disease issues or adhere to the industry’s best practice management recommendation of a 'one in four year' rotation.

New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) senior plant pathologist Dr Kevin Moore said a back-to-back chickpea plant was risky, warning that 100% crop losses could occur if conditions favoured the development of ascochyta blight, phytophthora root rot and sclerotinia rot.

“Even if there was no sign of these diseases in the 2015 crop it is not safe to plant chickpea on chickpea in 2016. There have been several significant cases in recent years where severe outbreaks of disease occurred in paddocks where it appeared safe to plant,” Dr Moore said.

“There are also longer term consequences, particularly for diseases like sclerotinia that have a wide host range.

“The survival structures, sclerotia, remain viable in the soil for many years and could potentially affect many crops including faba bean, canola, lupin, field pea and cotton.”

If serious disease outbreaks were to occur, they would harbour costly and long term implications for the entire grains industry according to Dr Moore.

“The first implication is the increased risk of the pathogen becoming more virulent and aggressive,” he said.

“Secondly, it places increased pressure on the resistance genes in new varieties as crops are subject to earlier infection and potentially more disease cycles within a season; and thirdly, we could see an increased risk of the pathogen developing resistance to fungicide.

“The resounding advice is that planting chickpea on chickpea is far too risky and the risks to the grower and the industry far outweigh any potential gains.”

Dr Moore said seed treatments and fallow cultivation would not reduce the risks associated with back to back planting and called on growers to follow current best practice recommendations for disease management in chickpea.

These include maintaining a one-in-four year rotation, avoid planting next to last year’s chickpea stubble if possible, ensure all planting seed is pickled, and follow the recommended in-crop ascochyta fungicide strategy for the sown variety.

Dr Moore will be presenting the latest chickpea disease research and management advice at the upcoming GRDC Grains Research Updates at Goondiwindi on March 1-2 and North Star on March 3.

For more information visit the GRDC website or contact ICAN on 02 9482 4930 or e-mail us at

Contact Details

For Interviews

Bernadette York, NSW DPI media officer 
0427 773 785


Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications
0418 152 859

Region North