Chickpeas in the Ord River Irrigation Area

Page last updated: Wednesday, 25 June 2014 - 3:41pm

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Kabuli chickpeas are a high value industry in the Ord River Irrigation Area (ORIA). A large-seeded, high quality grain is grown for domestic and export markets.

The Ord River District Co-operative Ltd markets locally-grown kabuli chickpeas. It mainly supplies domestic markets in Australian capital cities where chickpeas are sold as whole seed in specialty shops.

Information on the areas grown, yields and other details could not be obtained from the co-operative as they are regarded as commercial in-confidence.

Chickpeas are also sold in larger volumes to Australian manufacturers to make falafel, hummus and other dips. The processing market requires varieties with specific after-cooking flavour.

The major competitors for supplying premium size markets are Mexico, Portugal and Turkey.


The ORIA provides excellent conditions for the production of chickpea varieties adapted to sub-tropical conditions under irrigation.

Chickpeas are most suited to the Cununurra clay (black soil), but are also grown on Ord sandy loams (red alluvial soil). Due to the potential waterlogging problems on Cununurra clay, chickpeas are grown on raised beds.

The ideal time for planting chickpea in the ORIA is early to mid-May. The optimum sowing depth is 5-8cm. Weed management is important.

Kabuli chickpeas have a thin seed coat and are easily damaged during harvest and handling. Therefore, it is important to apply a fungicide to the seed before planting. A complex of pythium, fusarium, phytophthora and rhizoctonia species cause most diseases.

The main inspect pest in the ORIA is caterpillars (Helicoverpa spp.) which can cause severe damage to crops.

Grower practice is to apply:

  • Phosphorus: 40kg/ha
  • Zinc: 3kg/ha
  • Sulphur 10kg/ha
  • Nitrogen 45kg/ha.

Chickpeas only require 24mg/kg phosphorus in the soil.

They require Group N inoculum. Active noculation does not begin until about five weeks after sowing.

Irrigation scheduling is critical. About eight irrigations are usually required with an inundation period of 8-12 hours.

The crop is undercut two weeks after the final irrigation. It can be undercut 2.5cm below the surface. Some residual moisture is necessary to allow effective undercutting.

Harvesting is 7-14 days after undercutting. The time delay depends on weather conditions, crop biomass and crop moisture.


Macarena is an early flowering (40-42 days after sowing), large seeded (52g/100 seeds) variety from Mexico.

Kimberley Large is a kabuli chickpea variety specifically bred for the ORIA. It is higher yielding with a larger seed than Macarena. It is similar in flowering, maturity, height and morphology to Macarena.


Tara Slaven