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New Chickpea Variety Available for Legume Lovers

By Jan Suszkiw
December 28, 2005

Legume farmers and consumers alike stand to benefit from a new, high-yielding chickpea variety that will be sold for commercial production in the spring of 2006.

"Dylan" is the product of a cooperative effort involving Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and collaborators from four state agricultural experiment stations.

According to Fred Muehlbauer, a supervisory plant geneticist in ARS' Grain Legume Genetics and Physiology Research Unit at Pullman, Wash., Dylan produced higher yields than two leading chickpea varieties, "Dwelley" and "Sierra," during field trials in eastern Washington and northern Idaho. Dylan's seed yields were 15 percent higher than Dwelley's (1,622 pounds per acre versus 1,406) and 9 percent higher than Sierra's (1,622 vs. 1,490).

Dylan outperformed Dwelley in California trials and also outperformed "Sanford," another test variety, at some trial locations in North Dakota and South Dakota. Trials were also conducted in Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska.

The new chickpea's seeds are large, cream-colored and of the Kabuli type—the kind served in salad bars or added to ethnic dishes. The chickpea should also be suitable for dry packaging, according to Muehlbauer. Dylan grows to about 15 inches high, forms fern-like leaves, and reaches maturity around 106 days after planting, depending on climactic conditions. It also resists disease caused by the Ascochyta blight fungus, A. rabiei, which occurs in most U.S. chickpea production areas.

Dylan owes its outstanding yield, disease resistance and other traits to crosses that Muehlbauer made in 1994 between Dwelley and another chickpea, "Blanco Lechoso."

Large-seeded Kabuli chickpeas are generally categorized as dry edible beans. American consumers eat between 6 and 7 pounds of dry edible beans per person, with pinto, navy, black and Great Northern dry beans being the most popular types. Annual U. S. sales are nearly $2 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.

Requests for foundation seed should be directed to the Washington State Crop Improvement Association.

ARS is the USDA's chief scientific research agency.