Growers Could Plant a New, Earlier Chickpea Next SpringBy Kathryn Barry Stelljes
July 1, 1997
PULLMAN, Wash., July 1--Chickpea growers can get the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new, earlier maturing variety, called "Evans," in time for next spring's planting.
Like Dwelley and Sanford, released in 1992 by USDA's Agricultural Research Service and cooperators, Evans resists the Ascochyta blight fungus that devastated the chickpea, or garbanzo, industry a decade ago. But Evans flowers up to a week earlier than the other two varieties and matures two to three days earlier.
"That small difference is very significant," said ARS geneticist Frederick J. Muehlbauer, who developed Evans chickpeas. "In Washington and Idaho, where many of the nation's chickpeas are grown, a couple of extra days can allow the farmers to harvest their crops before the fall rains begin."
If the plants get wet before harvest, the peas are hard to remove from the pods. The extra moisture the peas retain could cause them to rot in storage bins, Muehlbauer explained. Planting early won't avoid this problem, he added, because temperatures early in the season aren't warm enough to hasten growth. Muehlbauer leads the ARS Grain Legume Genetics and Physiology Research Unit in Pullman.
In California, the country's largest chickpea producer, Evans' yields aren't likely to be as high as in Washington and Idaho. But the new variety's blight resistance may still make it attractive to California growers, Muehlbauer said.
He also developed Dwelley and Sanford chickpeas. ARS released all three varieties jointly with Washington State University and the University of Idaho. All are the large, cream-colored kabuli-type chickpeas often seen in salad bars.
Chickpeas are low in fat and rich in protein and fiber. About half the 43,000- acre U.S. chickpea crop is exported to Spain, Italy and Columbia.
Research plots of Evans will be on display July 10 at the Spillman Farm Field Day in Pullman.
The new variety was named after the late Sanford Evans--also the namesake of the Sanford variety--and his family in Genessee, Idaho. The Evans family was one of the first chickpea producers when the crop was introduced to the Pacific Northwest in 1981.
Researchers can obtain small amounts of seed from Muehlbauer. Commercial growers should contact the Washington and Idaho state crop improvement associations for seed.
Scientific contact: Frederick J. Muehlbauer, research leader, Grain Legume Genetics and Physiology Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Pullman, WA 99164-6421. Phone (509) 335-9521, fax (509) 335-7692.