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Genotype by environment studies across Australia reveal the importance of phenology for chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) improvement

J. D. Berger A H , N. C. Turner A B , K. H. M. Siddique A , E. J. Knights C , R. B. Brinsmead D , I. Mock E , C. Edmondson F and T. N. Khan A G

A Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

B CSIRO Plant Industry, Private Bag 5, Wembley, WA 6913, Australia.

C NSW Agriculture, Tamworth Agricultural Institute, RMB 944 Calala Lane, Tamworth, NSW 2340, Australia.

D Fomerly of QDPI Hermitage Research Station, Warwick, Qld 4370, Australia.

E Victorian Department of Primary Industries Mallee Research Station, Walpeup, Vic. 3507, Australia.

F Fomerly of SARDI Minnipa Agricultural Centre, Box 31, Minnipa, SA 5654, Australia.

G Department of Agriculture, 3 Baron-Hay Court, South Perth, WA 6151, Australia.

H Corresponding author; email:

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 55(10) 1071-1084
Submitted: 14 May 2004  Accepted: 18 August 2004   Published: 25 October 2004


Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) genotypes comprising released cultivars, advanced breeding lines, and landraces of Australian, Mediterranean basin, Indian, and Ethiopian origin were evaluated at 5 representative sites (Merredin, WA; Minnipa, SA; Walpeup, Vic.; Tamworth, NSW; Warwick, Qld) over 2 years. Data on plant stand, early vigour, phenology, productivity, and yield components were collected at each site.

Site yields ranged from 0.3 t/ha at Minnipa in 1999 to 3.5 t/ha at Warwick in 1999. Genotype by environment (G × E) interaction was highly significant. Principal components analysis revealed contrasting genotype interaction behaviour at dry, low-yielding sites (Minnipa 1999, Merredin 2000) and higher rainfall, longer growing-season environments (Tamworth 2000). Genotype clusters performing well under stress tended to yield well at all sites except Tamworth in 2000, and were characterised by early phenology and high harvest index, but were not different in terms of biomass or early vigour. Some of these traits were strongly influenced by germplasm origin. The material with earliest phenology came from Ethiopia, and southern and central India, with progressively later material from northern India and Australia, and finally the Mediterranean. There was a delay between the onset of flowering and podding at all sites, which was related to average temperatures immediately post-anthesis (r = –0.81), and therefore larger in early flowering material (>30 days at some sites). Harvest index was highest in Indian and Ethiopian germplasm, whereas crop height was greatest in Australian and Mediterranean accessions. Some consistently high yielding genotypes new to the Australian breeding program were identified (ICCV 10, BG 362), and the existing cultivar Lasseter was also confirmed to be very productive.


The authors thank the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Australia, for their generous research support. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the CGIAR system, and plant breeders in Australia and India are thanked for the use of their germplasm. This work could not have been attempted without considerable technical assistance at each of our trial sites. The authors thank Ms Christiane Ludwig, Ms Rebecca Tideswell, Ms Rebecca Tippett, Ms Leanne Young, Mr Allan Harris (Western Australia); Ms Lisa Bennie, Ms Wendy Payne (South Australia); Mr Ashley Corbett (Victoria); Mr Gavin Potter (NSW); and Mr William Martin (Queensland). Finally, Ms Jane Speijers and Prof. Peter Clarke (DAWA) are thanked for their statistical input, particularly for the ongoing discussion on the use of multivariate analysis for visualising G × E interaction.


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