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Development of early maturing chickpea varieties for diversification of rice-wheat cropping system

S.K. Chaturvedi and Masood Ali

Indian Institute of Pulses Research, Kanpur 208024 India Email


Considerable area is available for chickpea cultivation under late sown conditions in Northern India, which is dominated by rice-wheat cropping system. Chickpea is grown in about 0.6 m ha area in this region accounting for 1.3% of the total area (10.7 m ha) under rice-wheat cropping system in northern India indicating good scope for bringing additional area under chickpea. Varieties suitable for late sown conditions have been like BG 372, KPG 59 have been recommended for cultivation. These varieties have small seeds and late in maturity, hence could not compete with the high yielding varieties of other crops. The late sown conditions are characterised by low temperature at seeding and high temperature at the time of grain development. Low temperature at initial stage of crop growth results in poor and slow vegetative growth whereas high temperature at the end of season leads to forced maturity. Breeding programmes were initiated at IIPR and other centres in Northern India during late nineties to develop the suitable high yielding varieties for rice-chickpea system. Accordingly breeding lines were selected possessing early maturity and good canopy development. These lines along with three super early genotypes (ICCV 96029, ICCV 96030 and ICC 10426) from ICRISAT were evaluated at Experimental Station of IIPR, Kanpur during 2001-2002. Genotype IPC 94-94 recorded highest grain yield of 1056 kg/ha where as check variety BG 372 produced 800 kg/ha grains. IPC 94-94 could attain better yield under late sown conditions because of its good canopy development and early maturity. Genotype ICCV 96029 was earliest in maturity but could not produce pods at the end of season or pods remain unfilled. Selected advanced breeding lines developed at IIPR and other centres were evaluated under All India Co-ordinated Research Project (AICRP) network in Northern plains under late sown conditions. Genotype IPC 98-12 produced higher grain yield when compared with recommended varieties. Studies are required on these genotypes to know about the mechanism operative in production of higher yield. This will help in making efforts to select desirable plant types following integrated approach combining morpho-physiological and yield traits for late sown conditions of rice-fallow. Future genotypes for late sown conditions should be developed combining early maturity, high seedling vigour and cold tolerance at vegetative stage to overcome the problems of poor biomass, terminal moisture and heat stress and forced maturity.

Media summary

Early maturing genotypes can help in bringing additional area under chickpea through diversification of rice-wheat system. Early maturity and early growth vigour have been reported to have advantage in high yielding genotypes bred for late sown condition.

Key words

phenology, late sown, rice-fallow


In India, chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) is an important winter grain legume crop grown on 6.25 m ha during 2002-03. With the advent of Green Revolution technologies dominated by the semi-dwarf, nitrogen responsive and photo-insensitive varieties of rice and wheat, there was a dramatic shift in major cropping systems in Indo-Gangetic plains of the country. Most of the chickpea crop has been replaced by improved varieties of wheat that can be sown successfully even in January. Similarly, availability of photo-insensitive varieties has led to substantial increase in area under rice. Rice fields are generally vacated up to late November making the available varieties of chickpea unfit for timely sowing as they can not compete with wheat varieties under late sown conditions. Expansion of irrigation facilities further added to conspicuous reduction in area under chickpea in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Bihar due to diversion of chickpea area to that of wheat. Incidence of Ascochyta leaf blight in Haryana and Punjab also led to the reduction of area under chickpea. The major driving force in adopting a rice-wheat system has been the overall apparent productivity and economic return of the system besides response to specific opportunity, adaptation to biophysical threats and as a general strategy to socio-economic growth of the region. Consequently, area under rice and wheat saw a major jump in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh from a mere 5.21 and 9.18 m ha in 1970-71 to 9.62 and 15.1 m ha in 1999-2000, respectively. At the same time, chickpea saw a declining trend from 3.60 m ha to 1.44 m ha. Among innumerable cropping systems prevalent in the region, the rice-wheat system is the most dominating one covering about 10.7 m ha. Chickpea is grown in about 0.6 m ha in the region accounting for 1.3% of the area only indicating good scope for bringing additional area under chickpea (Ali et al. 2000). The early maturing varieties have great potential under late sown condition of northern India, which is dominated by the rice-wheat cropping system. Inclusion of chickpea in rice-wheat system brings not only qualitative change in the production base for long term sustainability but also helps protect the environment from the risks associated with high input agriculture. Kumar Rao et al. (1998) have suggested that by inclusion of legumes in cereal based intensive cropping systems such as rice-rice, rice-wheat, maize-wheat etc. heavy demand of N can at least be partly met which will also ensure the improved physical and chemical properties of the soil. Growing continuously wheat-rice-wheat in irrigated conditions obstructs the penetration of roots to deeper soil to extract water and nutrients which results to reduction in yield of rice and wheat, thus affecting the productivity of this popular cropping system (Prasad, 1996). In India, rice-wheat cropping system (RWCS) intensification has resulted in deterioration of soil fertility and soil health in general. Singh and Paroda (1994) have reported that continuous rice-wheat cropping, using inorganic fertilisers and without recycling of residues, has caused loss of soil organic matter and thus soil fertility.

When grown after rice, chickpea encounters excess water and low temperature during the vegetative phase and water deficit during the reproductive phase. Water deficit is reported to reduce nitrogen fixation more than it reduces plant growth and N uptake. In north Indian conditions, where irrigation supply is reliable and percolation is low, puddle soils typically remain continuously saturated until just before rice harvest. Therefore, the soil undergoes alternate drying and re-wetting during rice crop leading to compaction of soil. Rice fields are generally vacated late up to the end of November making the available varieties of chickpea unfit for sowing under late conditions (rice-fallow). Early maturing chickpea can be taken under late sown situation (rice fallow) when availability of water is not enough for wheat cultivation.

Constraints analysis was performed on basis of opinions of scientists, farmers and extension workers to know the reasons behind poor adoption of released varieties under late sown conditions (rice-fallow). Results indicated the need to combine early vigour and early maturity with grain yield.


Breeding programmes were initiated at IIPR and other AICRP centres in Northern India to develop suitable genotypes for late sown (rice-chickpea) conditions and accordingly breeding material have been developed. Selections were made from segregating generations and among breeding lines derived from hybridisation (early maturity and fast early growth vigour) following pedigree method. Breeding lines along with early maturing genotypes obtained from ICRISAT Asia centre and varieties released for late sown conditions of northern plains (north east and north west plains) were grown for further evaluation following the recommended cultural practices during the winter seasons of 2000-01 and 2001-02. During 2000-01, the trial having 12 entries was sown on 30th December 2000 and 20th January 2001 whereas during 2001-2002, 10 early maturing genotypes were sown on 31st December 2001. Data on days to first flower, days to first pod appearance, days to physiological maturity, seed size (100-seed weight) and plot yield was recorded and analysed. The selected genotype IPC 98-12, which had early maturity and early growth vigour, was also evaluated under AICRP at many locations under late sown conditions for three seasons during 2001-03.


Quantitative data was subjected to statistical analysis. The mean sum of square for grain yields per plot, days to maturity; days to flowering, seed size differed significantly. Out of twelve entries, genotype IPC 94-94 gave maximum grain yield of 1170 kg and 971 kg/ha, respectively when grown on 30th December 2000 and 20th January 2001. IPC 98-12 (1075 kg/ha) was at second place in term of grain yield when sown on 30th December 2000 (Table 1). The best check variety produced 970 kg/ha when sown on 30th December 2000 and 560 kg/ha when sown on 20th January 2001. The genotypes ICCV 96029 and ICCV 96030 recorded 795 and 730 kg/ha yield, respectively when sown on 20th January 2001. Genotype IPC 94-94 matured in 84 days whereas ICCV 96029 and ICCV 96030 took 79 days when sown on 20th January 2001. On 31st December 2001, ten early maturing genotypes including BG 256 and BG 372 (check varieties) were grown in trial replicated thrice following randomised block design. Genotype IPC 94-94 recorded highest grain yield (1056 kg/ha) followed by ICC 10426 (1028 kg/ha) and ICCV 96029 (940 kg/ha). Genotype IPC 94-94 took 110 days to mature whereas ICCV 96029 took 105 days. The best check variety BG 372 recorded grain yield of 800 kg/ha and matured in 117 days. The trend of 50% flowering remains similar for maturity also. One of the genotypes IPC 98-12 and others were evaluated for three seasons in northern India also performed well in AICRP trials under late sown condition (Table 2 & 3).

The known high yielding varieties like BG 256 and BG 372 have produced less yield in comparison to early maturing genotypes (IPC 94-94, ICCV 96029, ICC 10426) under late sown conditions indicating that the delayed sowing has led to forced maturity and poor yield in BG 256 and BG 372. Delayed sowing has been known to cause profound effect on growth and yield of chickpea (Ahlawat et al. 2003). Many flowers did not produce pods and even some pods remained unfilled due to high temperature. The early maturity has played key role in escaping high temperature at the end of the season and allowed flowers to produce pods and subsequently seeds. The number of pods per plant and the rapid pod fill were the other characters, which have influenced the grain yield. The early growth and establishment of the plants have played an important role in realising the potential of the genotypes in present study. Higher biomass alone did not help in attaining higher grain yield. In fact, it adversely affected the grain yield. However, genotypes with high biomass and earliness produced higher yield. These genotypes could avoid terminal heat and moisture stress also.


More emphasis should be given on development of early maturing varieties possessing early growth vigour, semi-erect habit, tolerance to low temperature at vegetative stage, and which can germinate and establish under high moisture and comparatively anaerobic soils. Germplasm and breeding lines need to be screened for the better germination and establishment of the plants under such conditions. An integrated approach involving scientists from breeding, physiology, pathology and microbiology should be adopted to develop suitable varieties for late sown conditions.

Table 1. Yield performance of promising breeding lines under late sown conditions at IIPR


Yield (Kg/ha)

Days to maturity

Sowing date






IPC 94-94






IPC 98-12






ICCV 96029






ICCV 96030






ICC 10426






BG 372






Table 2. Performance of promising breeding lines under late sown conditions of North West Plains



Mean yield (kg/ha)









BG 372




H 82-2




IPC 98-12




Table 3. Performance of promising breeding lines under late sown conditions of North East Plains



Mean yield


Days to maturity

100-seed wt. (g)






KPG 59






BG 372






Pant G 114






IPC 98-12







Ahlawat, IPS, Ali, Masood and Shivkumar, BG. 2003. Cropping systems research in chickpea. In: Chickpea research in India. (Eds. Masood Ali, Shiv Kumar and NB Singh). Indian Institute of Pulses Research, Kanpur, India. Pp. 119-13.

Ali, M., Joshi, P.K., Pandey, S., Asokan, M., Virmani, S.M., Ravi Kumar and Kandpal, B.K. 2000. Legumes in the Indo-Gangetic plain of India. In: Legumes in Rice and Wheat Cropping Systems of the Indo-Gangetic Plain- Constraints and Opportunities. (C.Johansen, Duxbury, S.M. Virmani, C.L.L. Gowda, S. Pande and P.K. Joshi (eds.). Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India. ICRISAT and Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. 250 pp.

Kumar Rao, JVDK, Johansen, C. and Rego, TJ (eds.). 1998. Residual effects of legumes in rice and wheat cropping systems of the Indo-Gangetic plain. Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India. ICRISAT and Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. 250 pp.

Prasad, R. 1996. Cropping system and sustainability of agriculture. In: Crop Productivity and sustainability- shaping the Future. Proceedings of 2nd International crop Science Congress. (Eds.VL Chopra, RB Singh and Anupam Verma). Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi.

Singh, RB and Paroda, RS. 1994. Sustainability and productivity of rice-wheat systems in Asia-Pacific region: research and technology development needs. IN: Sustainability of Rice-Wheat Production System in Asia (R.S. Paroda, Terence, Woodhead and RB Singh eds.). RAPA, FAO, Bangkok, Thailand. pp 1-35.

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