Tips to ease pod har­vest

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - NEWS - PAUL MCINTOSH

I WAS chat­ting to a group of farm­ers on the Western Downs re­cently about as­pects of grow­ing our var­i­ous pulse crops, par­tic­u­larly chick­peas, in the past few years.

They have all ap­pre­ci­ated the dol­lars per tonne that have been paid for our Aus­tralian desi chick­peas in the past three years, even with our yields all over the place.

The most an­noy­ing part of grow­ing chick­peas, par­tic­u­larly in the drier years, is the har­vesta­bil­ity of them at times.

In other words, the chick­pea plant puts on the seed pods, how­ever they are too low on the bush to get the header cut­ter bar un­der­neath that pod height.

It brings to mind that old say­ing of “what­ever he shall sow, that shall he also reap” or words to that ef­fect.

In per­fectly flat coun­try with a not-so-wide header front, no doubt you shall reap more of what your chick­pea bushes pod up with.

Never as easy as that, is it? Even with a 40-foot draper header front and air as­sist, un­du­lat­ing pad­docks due to melon holes or roughly worked coun­try cer­tainly make it chal­leng­ing to not leave any pods be­hind on the chick­pea bush.

In those high-mois­ture years it is cer­tainly a lot eas­ier to har­vest those lower seed pods, how­ever we do not al­ways get those, so that de­sir­able agro­nomic fea­ture of height to low­est pod is al­ways on our chick­pea breed­ing team’s mind.

Mind you, we can help our­selves by hav­ing level pad­docks at post-plant time.

These days our plant­ing op­er­a­tions al­ways seem to oc­cur when we need to deep sow our chick­pea seed for mois­ture avail­abil­ity.

This 100-150mm plant­ing depth with a tyne can throw a lot of soil onto the top of the side walls of the plant­ing trench and then your press wheel pushes down into the seed trench.

That is a dou­ble hit as a chick­pea plant’s height to low­est pod is a phys­i­o­log­i­cal trait that each va­ri­ety has and is cal­cu­lated from ground level in the trench, from where the stalk or stem emerges from the ground.

So if you deep sow and press wheel the seed line, your chick­pea plant emer­gence is maybe 25-50mm below the nat­u­ral pad­dock level.

So the height to low­est pod in the va­ri­ety man­age­ment pack­age is maybe stated at 370mm, how­ever be­cause your chick­pea plant starts 50mm or more below nor­mal pad­dock height, the height to your low­est pod may be 320mm from the top of the soil sur­face.

It’s a big dif­fer­ence when sit­ting in the driver’s seat of a header do­ing 8-10km/h.

So along with good, vig­or­ous plant­ing seed se­lec­tion, hav­ing level pad­docks be­fore a plant­ing oper­a­tion and then fol­low­ing up with a set of rollers post-plant pre-emer­gent is a good idea to make it that bit eas­ier to har­vest and also more prof­itable in your fu­ture chick­pea blocks.

It also cuts down on dirt on the grain sam­ple as, cu­ri­ous enough, over­seas coun­tries that we ex­port nearly our en­tire chick­pea crop to do not like our dirt on the chick­peas they are buy­ing.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

HAR­VEST HEIGHT: Level pad­docks can im­prove the har­vest of low-hang­ing chick­pea pods.

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