Top Crop Manager

Features Agronomy Plant Breeding
Improved chickpeas in the works

Canada's chickpea breeder says better ascochyta resistant chickpeas are coming.

November 20, 2007  By Rosalie I. Tennison

Finding that elusive gene that would ensure chickpea resistance to ascochyta
blight is a challenge for any breeder, but Canada's new breeder believes he
is up to the test. The University of Saskatchewan's Dr. Bunyamin Taran took
over the chickpea breeding program in 2006 and he has made developing an ascochyta
resistant chickpea breed a priority.

"Our newer varieties have fair or moderate resistance," Taran says.
The Saskatoon based breeder adds that these varieties, while not fully resistant
are also not fully susceptible, which makes it possible to get better disease
control with fungicides and other crop management strategies.

"Growers still need to be diligent with their field scouting to determine
the seriousness of any infection and whether they need to spray. Meanwhile,
our breeding program continues to look for better resistance," Taran explains.


The breeder says a new variety of kabuli chickpeas, tested as FLIP97-133C,
will be released in 2007. The new variety is so promising, the seed is being
increased in Mexico during the 2006/07 winter in order to have a good supply
of seed available for Select seed growers in 2007. "This new variety is
similar to CDC Frontier but it has better ascochyta resistance," he says.
"It also has earlier maturity and a larger seed size, which are also desirable

Most breeding programs can take up to 10 years before a promising new variety
reaches growers' fields. Taran says the Canadian program usually has several
varieties tested at eight to 10 locations across the prairies each year and
his team is seeing more varieties that have potential to be the near-perfect
cultivar they are seeking.

"With each new variety, we are able to gain a day or two on maturity which
is promising," reports Taran. "Because chickpea is an indeterminate
crop, we need to heighten maturity. Nevertheless, as with all crops, much depends
on the weather conditions, so we have maturity data for each region to determine
the best adaptation areas."

The larger goal remains to breed for ascochyta resistance. Taran says that
will continue to be his focus, while trying to maintain currently acceptable
traits for both desi and kabuli varieties, and possibly improving on them. Unfortunately,
ascochyta can change over time and the challenge is anticipating the changes
and breeding to minimize the danger.

Taran would like to see more research on the agronomic side of chickpea production
because he believes that could help lessen the affects of ascochyta. Meanwhile,
Canada's chickpea breeder will continue to search for the right package that
will give growers a chickpea variety that offers yield, maturity, colour, size
and ascochyta resistance in one perfect seed. -30-



Stories continue below