Quality defects in chickpeas

Take home message

Seed quality defects are a risk to the good quality reputation of Australian chickpeas. We need grower and adviser help to minimise the incidence of seed markings into the future.

Pulse quality is important to provide people with food, profits to farmers, profits within the value chain, nutrition and health to consumers as well as satiety and a sensory experience. The Pulse Quality Laboratories at Tamworth are charged with the task of ensuring Australian pulses have quality attributes to meet these requirements. We do this through (1) ensuring that new pulse varieties from the Pulse Breeding Australia (PBA) Breeding Programs and National Variety Trials (NVT) are acceptable to our major markets, (2) supporting development of new food products containing pulses for Australian consumption, (3) methodology development and improvement to assess the most important qualities, (4) other research activities to improve seed quality and eliminate seed defects, and (5) post-graduate student training and supervision.

Good pulse quality creates value (= increased industry and grower income) through increasing demand for Australian pulses. Seed quality defects have the potential to reduce marketability (= reduced profits). Such defects can be visual, process-reducing (for example, reducing processing yield or quality during the manufacture of an ingredient or food), food-behavioural (causes unwanted changes in the behaviour of the ingredient or food) or sensory (undesirably affects taste or aroma).

This talk will focus on one aspect of seed quality defects – seed markings.

Seed markings are visual blemishes on the seed coat that do not affect cotyledon appearance. They have been known to occur at low levels in many desi chickpea varieties from Australia and overseas for many years. However, the incidence of one particular type of seed marking, tiger stripe/ blotching, appears to be on the increase. Evidence suggests that they are not caused by disease and we hypothesise they are triggered by environmental plant stress.

A new GRDC project commenced in 2014 to investigate the occurrence of seed markings across varieties and growing regions, and to determine the underlying causes of these defects.

Preliminary results suggest that:

  • some varieties are more affected than others, hence there is a genetic component
  • environment has an effect, and we are working to uncover the causative factor(s)
  • sowing time can influence the presence and severity of markings, with later sowing dates generally leading to less markings in susceptible lines
  • there appear to be interactions between some of these factors

Samples received from around Australia in 2014 have indicated that the percentage of seeds blemished with blotch/tiger stripe markings range from 0% up to 49% within a single sample of seed.

This project is also examining pre-harvest weather damage in chickpeas (not presented at this meeting).

Growers and advisors are requested to provide seed samples from the 2015 season again this year to help researchers identify which varieties and locations are most affected by seed defects and which are not. In addition, any samples provided will be tested for germination, emergence, seed borne diseases and moulds by Dr Kevin Moore as part of the GRDC Project DAN00176, Northern NSW Integrated Disease Management and results provided back to the sender.

The request for samples information and Sample Info Sheet will be provided at the presentation or can be found on the GRDC website.


The research undertaken as part of this project is made possible by the significant contributions of growers through both trial cooperation and the support of the GRDC, the author would like to thank them for their continued support.  

There are many collaborators involved in this project, too many to name individually, but the organisations include NSW Department of Primary Industries, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, University of New England, University of Western Sydney, University of Southern Queensland. The author would like to thank them for their expert contributions to this research.

The author would also like to thank Pulse Australia and the National Variety Trial (NVT) personnel for provision of samples and industry feedback.

Contact details

Dr Jenny Wood
NSW Department of Primary Indutries
Tamworth Agricultural Institute, 4 Marsden Park Rd, Calala NSW 2340
Ph: 02 6763 1157
Fx: 02 6763 1222
Email: jenny.wood@dpi.nsw.gov.au

GRDC Project code: DAN00196