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