Neelam - a desi chickpea for southern Australia

Page last updated: Friday, 5 April 2019 - 11:03am

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Neelam is well adapted to most areas of southern Australia and offers ascochyta blight resistance in a mid flowering, mid maturing variety.

Key features

  • Ascochyta blight resistance rating of resistant (R).
  • Mid flowering and mid maturity, adapted to most growing regions of southern Australia.
  • Medium/tall plant height, taller than PBA Slasher.
  • Seed size is 17 grams per 100 seeds, marginally larger than Genesis 836.


Neelam is a Hindu/urdu word (the most widely spoken languages in the Indian subcontinent) meaning the gem blue sapphire. This follows the Western Australian convention of naming chickpea varieties in the language of the target market and referring to gems or precious metals found in Australia.

Neelam was tested as WACPE2155, 99-451A-WAD7 and 99-451A-WAD007.


This variety was developed by Dr Tanveer Khan (former Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) plant breeder), Winthrop Professor Kadambot Siddique (University of Western Australia) and the DPIRD pulse breeding team. The cross (8511-19/ICC 13729) was made in 1999 at Tamworth and then transferred as F4 generation to WA. The segregating populations were grown at Merredin in 2003 and subjected to ascochyta blight epidemic. A single plant showing ascochyta blight resistance and desirable agronomic traits was harvested individually and progeny grown in 2004, again at Merredin along with other single plant selections. This line was then observed as genetically fixed and tested at multi-location breeding trials until 2011.

Agronomic characteristics

The agronomy of growing Neelam is similar to all current Australian chickpea varieties. Neelam has the following agronomic characteristics:

  • Plant height is higher than most Australian varieties but slightly lower than Genesis 836.
  • Mid flowering similar to Genesis 836.
  • Lodging has not been seen in any trials in WA, including trials where Neelam has yielded more than four tonnes per hectare (t/ha).
  • Neelam is a mid maturity variety similar to PBA Slasher and Genesis 836.
  • Neelam is resistant to ascochyta blight, as found over several years of testing in WA and in variable environments in India and New South Wales.
Table 1 Agronomic features of desi chickpea varieties
Variety Seed weight (g/100) Seed colour Flowering time Maturity time Plant height Lodging
Neelam 17 brown mid mid med-tall MR
Ambar 16 light brown early early short-med MR
PBA Slasher 21 brown mid mid medium MS
Genesis 836 17 light brown mid mid-late tall MR
Table 2 Disease resistance of desi chickpea varieties
Variety Ascochyta blight Ascochyta rating Botrytis grey mould
Neelam R 3.9 S
Ambar R 3.8 S
PBA Slasher R 4.1 S
Genesis 836 MS 4.8 S