Retaining seed for the 2019 chickpea season

Kevin Moore from NSW DPI in Tamworth explains why it is important to look after and correctly store treated chickpea seed for the 2019 season.

Most of the chickpea seed for the 2019 season will come from seed harvested in 2017 and treated with fungicide, as a lot of chickpea seed has been retained from the 2017 season that was not sown in 2018. In 2019 growers are going to be short of chickpea seed due to:

  • the area sown to chickpeas in 2018 being less than 10% than what was expected, and
  • low chickpea yields in 2018 due to seasonal conditions.

The majority of the treated seed for 2019 remains in storage on-farm, approximately enough to plant 630,000 ha and worth $53 million ($1,200/tonne).

Recommendations

To retain viable, treated chickpea seed it is recommended to store seed at less than 30C and at 10-13% moisture level.  At the start of the 2019 season, irrespective of how the chickpea seed is stored a paddock emergence test is recommended.  

A paddock emergence test not only determines if the seed is alive, but if it will actually emerge.  The test involves the following:

  • Sampling seed: collect seed samples from several places in the storage facility, mix the sample and count into 100 seed lots.
  • Paddock test (March/April 2019): for each 2019 chickpea paddock, plant 100 seeds 50-75mm deep, cover and water.  The more test sites in a paddock, the better the information on emergence and residual herbicides.
  • Emergence: Count the number of plants that emerge over a 2-4 week period and note their appearance (distorted/discoloured).  

The Pulse Australia minimum is 70% emergence for this test. If this is achieved the fungicide that was applied during the grading of the seed in 2017 should still be effective and does not need to be re-treated.

Germination and vigour tests can also be conducted by commercial seed testing labs.

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