Field mould risk in chickpeas after late rain

From left to right: Normal, frosted and mould chickpea samples.
From left to right: Normal, frosted and mould chickpea samples.

Frost and late rains have raised the risk of ‘field mould’ in chickpeas so growers have been encouraged to have their seed tested to assess germination and any impacts from frost or mould.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Senior Plant Pathologist Dr Kevin Moore said seed quality concerns have been raised following the delivery of chickpeas from recent harvests.

“Growers can send samples to the DPI for testing to assess whether their harvest has been affected and also check seed that is to be retained for next season’s sowing.

“Some samples have been discounted or rejected for having ‘field mould’,” Dr Moore said.

“We encourage growers to have their seed germination tested by the DPI pathology unit to determine if field mould is present or if other factors such as frost that occurred during August and September, have contributed to the discolouration.”

Dr Moore said to date, one seed lot from the Narrabri district has been tested and the discolouration was more likely frost injury or immature seeds, rather than mould.

“However, if seeds are exposed to moisture in-crop or during storage they are more prone to mould than non-frosted seeds,” Dr Moore said.

DPI Senior Research Scientist, Dr Jenny Wood researches chickpea seed quality and defects.

Dr Wood said frosted grains are typically small, shrivelled and often darker brown in colour. Immature seeds can have a similar appearance - small, shrivelled, with green cotyledons.

“The late rain on maturing plants in some areas this season caused a new flush of growth and podding at the tops of mature plants, resulting in these immature seeds at harvest,” she said.

“Both frosted and immature seeds are classified into the same defective seed category at receival, with a maximum tolerance of 6 per cent by weight, including a maximum of 2% poor colour.”

 “To capture information on these defects it is important to obtain grower samples that are representative of the paddock, straight off the header and those identified as seed for 2018.”

These samples will be tested by both Dr Moore (germination and pathology) and Dr Wood (non-pathological seed defects) as part of joint DPI and GRDC projects.

“It is important to capture as much information as possible to determine the relative contributions of frost, immaturity and mould to this chickpea defect,” Dr Moore said.

Growers should ensure samples arrive by the end of February 2018 - this will ensure all tests are completed and results dispatched well ahead of planting. There is no charge for this service.

Growers can send 500g chickpea seed samples from each paddock for testing to Gail Chiplin/Kevin Moore, NSW Department of Primary Industries, 4 Marsden Park Road, CALALA NSW 2340.