Impact of Sowing Time on Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) Biomass Accumulation and Yield
Chickpea growth, development and grain yield are affected by a range of climatic and environmental factors. Experiments were conducted across four sowing dates from mid-April to the end of May, over two years at Trangie in central western New South Wales (NSW), and Leeton, Wagga Wagga and Yanco (one year) in southern NSW, to examine the influence of sowing time on biomass accumulation, grain yield and plant yield components. Climatic and experimental location data were recorded during the growing seasons. Early sowing (mid-April) resulted in taller plants, higher bottom and top pod heights, fewer pods, more unfilled pods and greater biomass accumulation, but low harvest index due to reduced grain yield compared with late sowing (end of May). Grain number was positively correlated with grain yield and was the main yield component accounting for most of the variation in yield. There was largely a positive correlation between biomass and yield, especially with delayed sowing except for Leeton experiments. This study concludes that sowing around the end of April in central western NSW and mid-May in southern NSW is conducive to higher grain yield as it minimises exposure to abiotic stresses at critical growth periods and allows efficient conversion of biomass to grain yield.