Evaluating the Dual-Purpose of Chickpea: A Cash and Cover Crop for Agricultural Production Systems in the Southeast

Progress report for LS21-353

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2021: $397,648.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2024
Grant Recipients: University of Florida; Florida A&M University
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
md ali babar
University of Florida
Dr. Oscar Liburd
University of Florida
Gabriel Maltais-Landry
University of Florida
Dr. Jorge Ruiz-Menjivar
University of Florida
Dr. Marilyn Swisher
University of Florida
Chris Wilson
University of Florida
Alejandro Bolques
Florida A&M University
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Project Information


Crop diversification and rotation improve soil nutrition, reduce weed pressure, interrupt disease and pest cycles, reduce risk of crops loss and can increase income for growers. Farmers in North Florida often do not use rotation because crops that they could use in rotation with major crops (corn, peanut, and cotton) produce little or no income. Due to its relatively high value, many growers produce peanut several years in succession, resulting in growing disease, insect and weed pressure. Unpredictable rainfall patterns and high temperatures, both of which may increase in the future, are major challenges for these farmers, threatening both economic and environmental sustainability of their systems. Growers in North Florida express interest in crops that can fit into their annual cropping cycle without disrupting primary crop production and would make their systems more profitable and sustainable. Chickpea, the 2nd most widely consumed food legume, may have potential as a food and cover crop in the off-production season for the main crop. Consumer demand for chickpea has increased significantly as it is gluten free, high in essential amino acids and fiber, and an excellent source of several minerals and antioxidants. Increased demand for chickpea in healthy snacks, salads, vegan foods, and in processed products (hummus) has resulted in increased acreage and production in the US. Chickpea could be a profitable crop in North Florida due to a favorable growing environment and its short winter crop cycle (120-140 days) that would allow it to fit into several cropping systems involving corn, cotton, and vegetables. It may also provide environmental benefits by fixing N, preserving soil moisture, suppressing weeds and breaking pest cycles in rotational crops. Chickpea is also a relatively undemanding crop that remains productive under adverse environmental conditions. It requires minimum post-harvest processing and can be sold through local food venues as well as through commodity chains. It could be profitable for small-scale growers who are willing to develop or cultivate a market through local farmers markets, other direct markets, or for wholesale to smaller distributors. However, to our knowledge, there is no information available on yield, varieties, and management practices for chickpea in Florida and the southeastern US, including how N-fixation inputs and impacts on pest cycles affect rotational crops like corn. To address these knowledge gaps, our multi-disciplinary team including growers, extension agents, and researchers in four departments at the UF and FAMU proposes to investigate the feasibility of chickpea production for corn-based cropping system in Florida. We will: 1) characterize chickpea varieties to identify high yielding, cold tolerant varieties that mature in target windows, 2) assess nitrogen fixation in chickpea, impacts on soil N cycling, and the N-credit to the subsequent crop, 3) assess how chickpea impacts insect pests, beneficial organisms and disease pressure on the rotational crops, 4) analyze costs of production, and 5) disseminate results through UF and FAMU newsletters, websites, and listservs, fact sheets, and on-site and virtual field days, in-service training and county and regional extension educational programs.

Project Objectives:

The aim of this project is to evaluate chickpea to improve our knowledge on this multi-purpose crop and learn whether it can be grown for its full growth potential in the Southern Coastal Plain region as an off-season (winter) dual-purpose crop (cash and cover) in corn production systems. Our evaluation will be based on yield and economic returns, potential N-credits, and impact on major insect pests of the major summer cash crop (corn). We will identify the best maturity chickpea varieties for production (high yielding and nutrient rich) to enhance diversity, and environmental and economical sustainability. The specific objectives are:

Objective 1: Evaluate yield, nutritional quality and N-fixation of chickpeas integrated into corn cropping systems.

Objective 2: Assess N-fixation by chickpea and N credit to the subsequent cash crop, by combining 15N tracing at one research site (PSREU) on the three most promising varieties with more traditional N cycling measurements at both research sites and on growers’ fields.

Objective 3: Measure insect and disease pressure in the rotational crops.

Objective 4: Evaluate and compare the economic feasibility of production for evaluated chickpea varieties.

Objective 5: Incorporate stakeholder’ recommendations in the evaluation of project activities, conduct outreach and training, and disseminate findings on the potential dual-purpose of chickpea in agricultural production systems.

As a prelude of developing these objectives, initially, we screened different Kabuli chickpea varieties of International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) origin at PSREU, Citra and 70 were selected. These 70 chickpea varieties showed cold tolerance and demonstrated to be promising for North Florida growing conditions. The growing cycle of these varieties ranged between mid-November to early April. In another preliminary study to explore the possibility of growing fall sown chickpea in North Florida, we planted drought tolerant (Punjab Noor‐2009) and sensitive (93127) chickpea lines at Plant Science Research and Education Unit (PSREU), Citra, FL. Data were collected on nodule number, height, harvest index, pods/plant, 100-pod and -seed weight and yield and are presented in Tables 1 and 2. The lines were planted in late November. The yield of drought tolerant lines had 1330 lbs/ac and 1850 lbs/acre under rainfed and irrigated conditions, respectively. Our preliminary results demonstrate the potentials of growing chickpea in the winter season in Southern Coaster Plain, however, we need to find out right variety with cold tolerance, disease resistance, best maturity, high yield potential and high N-fixation capacity.

Table 1: Difference in plant response to traits in drought tolerant (93127) and sensitive (Punjab Noor‐2009) chickpea genotypes planted in Citra, Florida in 2017-18.

Treatments No of nodules /Plant Plant height (cm)

Biomass/plant (g) 

Harvest index (%)
  Sen Tol LSD (0.05) Sen Tol LSD (0.05) Sen Tol LSD (0.05) Sen Tol LSD (0.05)
Rainfed 10 25 10 36 81 8 38 92 22 32 48 8
Irrigated 22 30 6 75 80 3 108 103 NS 68 65 NS

Table 2: Differences in yield and related traits in drought tolerant (93127) and sensitive (Punjab Noor‐2009) chickpea genotypes planted in Citra, Florida in 2017-18.

  Sen Tol LSD (0.05) Sen Tol LSD (0.05) Sen Tol LSD (0.05) Sen Tol LSD (0.05)
Rainfed 62 113 21 20 48 7 16 28 6 853 1330 220
Irrigated 121 131 8 48 55 4 29 33 3 1708 1850 80




Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Dr. Alejandro Bolques
  • Kirk Brock - Technical Advisor - Producer
  • Glyen Holmes - Producer (Researcher)
  • Willie Morgen - Producer (Researcher)
  • Sammy Starling - Producer


Materials and methods:

Objective 1:
Year 1 (2021-22): We will evaluate 70 pre-screened Kabuli chickpea varieties and 10 commercial checks (grows in North Dakota, California, Nebraska, Washington and Montana) in mid-Nov for late March harvesting at PSREU, Citra, (North-central Florida) and NFREC, Quincy, (North Florida). The trial will be planted in a 10ft long, four-row plot in an alpha-lattice design with two replications/location with a row-to-row distance of 12 inches. Seeds will be inoculated with Cicer specific Rhizobium bacteria prior to planting to encourage nodulation. A small amount of starter N (10 pounds/acre) with a P fertilizer source will be applied for early vegetative growth. Sulfur, potassium, phosphorus and micronutrients will be applied for proper growth and yield.

We will collect following data to characterize chickpea varieties:

Emergence: We will estimate emergence after two weeks of planting by visual rating of 0-9 scale, where 0 and 9 reflects no and >90% germination, respectively.

Time to R2 & R7: We will calculate the time between planting and 50% of open flowers on the plant (R2) and 50% of pods being yellow (R7).

Cold tolerance: A 1 to 9 scale will be used following Singh et al. (1997), where 1 = no visible symptoms of damage and 9 = 100% plant killing.

Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI): We will collect NDVI images using MicaSense Rededge camera mounted on a DJI Matrice 100 drone at 15, 30, and 45 days after emergence to assess vigor indirectly (Tucker and Sellers, 1986). Chickpeas with high NDVI will be considered as varieties that can potentially preserve moisture and suppress weeds as they have vigorous early growth.

Biomass: Fresh and dry biomass weight will be measured at 45 days after emergence to evaluate forage yield potential.

Plant height: Height will be measured after pod formation on randomly selected eight plants per replicate from the middle two rows.

Disease rating: We will rate diseases using 1 to 5 disease incidence scale (Harveson et al., 2009), where 1 = no disease and 5 = > 75% of plant showing symptoms. Disease severity will also be recorded on a 0 to 100% scale with 1% increments for each disease identified.

Pods/plants: We will count pods/plants from eight randomly selected plants in the middle two rows.
100-grain weight: We will count and weigh hundred grains after harvest.

Yield: Middle two rows will be machine harvested to estimate yield at 15% moisture.

Food qualities analysis: Total protein, digestible fiber, Fe, Zn, K and Mg in grains will be measured at UF/IFAS Forage Evaluation Support and Analytical Service Laboratory.

We will identify 6-8 varieties with best maturity, high yield potential, high food quality, disease resistance, and cold tolerance for year 2 and 3 testing.

Year 2 (2022-23): The selected 6-8 chickpea varieties and rye will be planted at PSREU and FAMU Research and Extension Center, Quincy in 4-row 20 ft long plots in a randomized complete block design with four replications/location. We will include rye in the Year 2 and 3 experiments, as rye has been the predominant growers’ preference for winter cover crop in North Florida, to evaluate the effect of chickpeas on the yield and insect infestation of corn in comparison to growers’ practice. Chickpea seeds will be inoculated before planting like Y1. All phenotypic data will be collected following the same protocols as Y1. In addition, the N-fixation capacity of chickpea varieties will be assessed (objective 2). We will conduct growers’ research assessments to select the best performing varieties for growers’ field evaluations in Y3. Following chickpea harvest, corn hybrids will be planted in mid-April in the same field for assessing N-credit (objective 2) and the effect on pests (objective 3) on the rotational crop. Corn trials will be planted in 4-row 20 ft plot with 36” row-row distance to estimate emergence, yield, test weight, etc.

Year 3 (2023-24): We will continue experiments in both PSREU and FAMU and will work with growers to conduct on-farm trials with a corn crop. The trials at PSREU and FAMU will follow the same protocol as Y2.

On farm trial: Four on-farm trials will be planted in four growers’ fields in Mariana, Monticello, Havana and Live Oak, FL to evaluate the performance of chickpea varieties (selected by growers in year 2) under growers’ field conditions. The chickpea trial will be planted in four 100 ft long strips. The trial will be assessed by growers for yield, maturity, weed suppression, fertility, etc. Following the harvesting of chickpeas, corn will be planted in the same field for the estimation of N-credit and effect on pests of corn (objectives 2 & 3).

Data will be analyzed in a linear mixed model using R package for locations, across locations, and across years and locations to estimate genotype-location interaction. The broad sense heritability for traits will be estimated. The design will be adjusted considering locations, blocks, and genotype-location interaction as random effects. PI Babar and Dr. Bolques will lead research activities and analysis for objective 1.

Objective 2:
Experimental and analytical work for objective 2 will take place during years 2 and 3 of the project, using complementary approaches for on-station research.

At PSREU, we will setup a 15N tracing experiment with the 3 most promising varieties from the 6-8 selected after year 1, selecting those most promising varieties in collaboration with the advisory council. We will label chickpea plants for these 3 varieties with 15N-enriched fertilizer, using a 30 m2 area outside of the main research plots to prevent soil contamination with 15N. We will do 4 fertilization events (foliar and soil) during chickpea growing season to obtain a uniform distribution of 15N among plant parts. We will then define a 2.5 m2 microplot for 15N experiments in each of the 12 main research plots (i.e., 3 chickpea varieties grown in 4 blocks). At chickpea termination, we will remove chickpea residues from the surface of microplots, and we will take 3 soil samples (0-15 cm) per microplot and analyze them for 15N. We will add 15N-labeled residues to the surface of microplots, at a rate identical to what the remainder of the main plots receive in non-labeled residues (i.e., a 1:1 substitution). Land preparation and corn seeding will follow, using identical methods as those used for the rest of the main experiment, and fertilizers will be analyzed for 15N. At harvest, we will collect whole corn plants and three additional soil cores per microplot and analyze them for 15N. All 15N samples will be analyzed by combustion, using an elemental analyzer coupled to a mass spectrometer. We will use an isotope mixing model with three pools (chickpea residue N, fertilizer N, soil N) to quantify the amount of N transferred from chickpea to the subsequent corn crop and to the soil.

At both PSREU and FAMU research stations, we will monitor N-cycling using traditional methods, focusing on the 6-8 varieties selected for objective 1 in addition to the rye cover crop (total: 28 to 36 plots per site per year). We will quantify soil extractable N using 2M KCl in the tilled layer (0-20 cm) before chickpea/rye planting, midway during the chickpea/rye growing season, after chickpea/rye termination (and before corn planting), midway in the corn growing season, and after corn harvest. We will collect soils for potential net N mineralization (a 28-day incubation) for all of these time steps, using the method of Roberston et al. (1999). After chickpea/rye termination, we will build N mineralization curves to determine the temporal release of N from chickpea/rye residues over time, measuring soil-extractable N at four time points during a two-month incubation.

We will also measure soil protein and permanganate-oxidizable C (POXC), according to Stott et al. (2019), before chickpea/rye planting, after chickpea/rye termination, and after corn harvest, to measure changes in emerging soil health indicators. Before corn planting, we will measure traditional soil fertility indicators (Mehlich-extractable micro- and macronutrients, soil pH) to adjust fertilization rates, using an external laboratory. Finally, at both research sites, we will collect crops for total N analysis (chickpea/rye aboveground biomass, corn aboveground biomass and seeds) in each plot in each year, and we will determine total N and C by combustion.

For on-farm trials, we will focus on measurements of crop N in chickpea and corn, incubations quantifying N release after chickpea termination, soil protein N and POXC (before chickpea, after chickpea, after corn), and traditional soil properties measured before corn. These indicators are pre-selected as they provide information that should be most applicable to growers, although we will refine the choice of indicators with the advisory council and participating growers.

All data collected for objective 2 will be analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA), using a different ANOVA for each research station (i.e., PSREU, FAMU), with chickpea varieties as a fixed factor and block as a random factor. When multiple measurements are taken from a given plot in a year (e.g., N mineralization), a repeated measures model will be used. For on-farm trials, all sites will be analyzed at once, using site as a fixed effect in the model. Tukey HSD tests will be used for means separation, and appropriate data transformations will be used prior to analysis to conform with conditions of normality of residuals and homogeneity of variances. All analyses will be conducted in R.

Co-PIs Maltais-Landry and Wilson will lead research activities laid out in objective 2.

Objective 3:
Monitoring provides information on pest population density and is the cornerstone of any pest management program. Chickpea is a leguminous annual plant that is attacked by a host of pests including, beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua; chickpea leafminer, Liriomyza cicerina; cowpea aphid, Aphis craccivora; and pod borers, Helicoverpa armigera.

The corn earworm (CEW) Helicoverpa zea Boddie is a major pest of corn in the Southern Coaster Plain areas (Reay-Jones 2019). The larva feeds on several field and horticultural crops including alfalfa, clover, cotton, oat, millet, corn, and sorghum. In corn, the larva initially feeds on silk before moving to the developing kernels.

The European corn borer (ECB) is an important pest of field crops that cause an estimated $1 billion in losses annually (Hutchinson et al. 2010). ECB was introduced into the eastern US in 1917. The larva feeds on the silk eventually gaining access to the kernels. In the southern US there are three to four generations per year.

The southern corn rootworm (SCR), Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi also known as the spotted cucumber beetle is common in southeastern US. A female can lay up to 500 eggs in its lifetime (Farms. Com). Depending on climate, the SCR can have up to 3 -4 generations per year. Both adults and larvae feed on a wide range of field crops but the larva is the more damaging life-stage. The larva feeds on the terminal blades making round holes and later in the season when the roots are established, they will begin feeding on the roots.

We will use several monitoring techniques to quantify the major pests in chickpea and corn that are common to North Florida. Insects and beneficials will be monitored in selected chickpea varieties to assess levels of susceptibility. Pheromone traps will be deployed to monitor the flight activity of adult beet armyworm and pod borers in Chickpea. The larvae of beet armyworm and pod borers will be monitored by shaking known number of plants and counting the number of larvae that fall onto a drop cloth held beneath the canopy. Aphids and leafminers will be monitored using unbaited yellow sticky cards and using in situ counts.

We will also monitor CEW, ECB, and SCR in corn/chickpea (research plot) and a grower standard corn/rye. We will compare the abundance of pests and beneficials in these two systems. The corn earworm will be sampled by randomly choosing known numbers of plants at each location. Each plant (seed heads) will be vigorously shaken over a beat sheet and the number of larvae that fall onto the sheet will be counted and recorded. For the ECB, we will initially deploy two baited pheromone traps (E race & Z race) of the Heliothis (Hartstack) style, which will be checked weekly. After the trap-catch is initiated, we will count egg masses and young larvae found on the plant. Sampling for ECB egg masses will involve examining the upper and lower sides of the corn ear leaf, on approximately 10 plants (one leaf per plant). We will also examine the leaf junctions for larvae and record the number of caterpillars found. Root assessment for larval feeding will be made at three random locations in each field. We will inspect 5 consecutive root balls to assess root injury. In addition to major pests of corn, we will also sample for beneficial insects such as parasitoids and predators. Egg parasitoids of CEW and ECB include Trichogramma spp., and Telenomus spp. whereas larval parasitoids include Cotesia spp., and Campoletis spp. Predators typically feed on eggs and larvae of corn earworm and ECB. Some common predators in the corn system that will be assessed include the lady bird beetle, Hippodamia convergens Guerin-Meneville, lacewings, Chrysopa and Chrysoperla spp., minute pirate bug, Orius spp. and big-eyed bugs, Geocoris spp..

Monitoring data will be compared according to varieties analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA. Pest and beneficial insect counts will be transformed to ln (x+0.5) to normalize the distribution and homogenize the variances among before analysis. Treatment means will be separated by Tukey’s HSD test. We will also t-tests to determine differences between our research plots and the grower standard. Co-PI Liburd will lead research activities and data analysis for objective 3.

Objective 4:
We will develop Partial Budgets to compare selected chickpea varieties' cost-effectiveness in Years 2 and 3. Partial Budget Analysis (PBA) is a commonly used technique to assess the impact of quantifiable economic changes in both costs and returns in a farm enterprise (Kay et al., 1994). PBA compares the negative effects (i.e., estimated cost) and positive effects (i.e., estimated returns) of employing a new treatment relative to the cost and returns of a baseline treatment. Total effects are calculated by subtracting the estimated negative impact from positive effects attributed to a new treatment. The use of PBA is appropriate when evaluating and comparing the impact of alternative production techniques where there is a single variant (in our case, the dual-use chickpea as cash and cover crop) in the production system (Wossink and, Osmond, 2002). We will use the PBA format suggested by Dalsted and Gutierrez (1992).

Our analysis will account for changes in the structure of production costs, including operational costs (e.g., labor, machinery, and material) associated preharvest, harvest, and production stages of chickpeas. Data for this analysis will come from observations collected in field trials, public sources, and surveys available through federal and state/regional agencies, and the academic literature. To validate the degree of accuracy of cost and revenue estimates drawn from literature and market surveys, we will convene a panel of 6 growers and use the Delphi Method—a process which aims to achieve convergence of opinion on a specific question or topic (Linstone and Turoff, 2002; Okoli and Pawlowski, 2004).The results of the economic analysis will provide side-by-side cost-effectiveness comparisons of selected chickpea verities. Co-PI Ruiz-Menjivar will lead research activities for objective 4.

Objective 5:
Active grower participation in the research process from conceptualization through implementation and outreach is critical to the success of this project. We use two specific activities to ensure that growers are aware of and informed about the project and that they play an active, decisive role in the development of the project.

The Advisory Council is a permanent governing body for the duration of the project that will meet bi-annually to assess overall results, discuss progress and impacts, and determine if the project plan requires adjustments. We will seek nominations from county and district Extension personnel and from individuals who have formal and informal leadership roles in their communities and who have collaborated previously with researchers and Extension from FAMU and UF. The AC will (1) provide targeted consensus-based input to refine and improve research activities and (2) detailed reviews of progress for each of the four research objectives. Dr. Swisher will facilitate the discussions to help ensure that the AC can reach consensus-based recommendations necessary to ensure scientific and methodological rigor, reduce research bias, and enhance research outcomes and the potential quality of findings. We will summarize the impact of these recommendations in the final project report.

The Field Research Assessments are conducted by small groups (maximum of 10 participants) who are convened ad hoc. We will conduct separate assessments for growers and for technical advisors. The participants first complete individual visual assessments of the treatments in the research setting. They know what treatments are used, but the plots are not labelled to prevent bias based on prior experience or knowledge. After the visual assessment, the groups learn what treatments they observed and also the research results to that time in the project. Extension and other personnel convene separately to make specific recommendations. We have used this technique successfully for the past five years to improve biological research outputs and identify critical factors that influence growers' assessments of alternative treatments. The output of these assessments is recommendations for ways to enhance the quality of our research, and these recommendations provide clear guidance about what aspects of our research are likely to be most "adoptable" by growers.

We will need Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for the human subject research component of activities. We will use qualitative data analysis techniques to analyze the data, focusing on the themes and patterns of responses that are most important for project success. Our qualitative approach involves four steps that collapses original codes to a set of over-arching themes that capture the concepts that are shared by many, sometimes all, respondents. Reaching consensus is a challenging task for participants in both roles. Dr. Swisher has lengthy experience in facilitation, much of it with farmers and Extension agents, and she will lead the activities in objective 5.

Research results and discussion:

Year 1 (April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022):

The project aims to provide critical data regarding yield, varieties, and management practices for chickpea in the southeastern US, including its potential role in rotational corn-based rotational cropping systems.

Objective 1: Evaluate yield, nutritional quality and N-fixation of chickpeas integrated into corn cropping systems:

  • Germplasm characterization:

One hundred eight experimental chickpea lines and 9 commercial varieties (CDC Leader, CDC Orion, Sawyer Chickpea, Sierra Chickpea, CDC Palmer, CDC Frontier, New Hope, Royal Chickpea, Troy Chickpea) were planted on November 16, 2021. The plot size was 20 square ft. The trials were planted in alpha-lattice design with 2 replications. Data were collected on early ground cover (1-9 scale; 1=10%, 9=full ground cover); growth habit (1-5 scale; 1=completely upright, 5=prostate growth habit); % emergence; freeze damage (0-9 scale; 0=no leaf burning, 9=completely killed); days to 50% flowering (the time between planting and 50% of open flowers); Days to 50% podding (the time between planting and 50% of pods visible); biomass at 60 days after planting (Kg ha-1); shoot dry weight/plant (g); root dry weight/plant (g); root/shoot ratio; number of primary and secondary branches/plant; Ascochyta blight (0-9; 0 = none, 9 = severe); Alternaria leaf blight (0-9; 0 = none, 9 = severe); and Botrytis grey mold (0-9; 0 = none, 9 = severe). The estimation of N-content in shoot is currently underway. The drone based multi-spectral and thermal images were collected three times at different growth stages to estimate NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) and CT (canopy temperature). NDVI data will provide early ground cover and progress on ward. CT will provide stress tolerance in different lines. Multi-spectral and thermal image data are currently under processing. The trials will be harvested in 2nd week of April 2022. At harvest, plant height, pods/plant, seed yield, and 100-seed weight data will be collected. After harvesting, total protein, digestible fiber, Fe, Zn, K and Mg in grains will be measured.




Ground cover (1-9)

Growth habit (1-5)

Freeze damage           (0-9)

% Emergence

Days to 50% Flowering

Days to 50% podding

Biomass                  (Kg ha-1)

Shoot dry weight/plant (g)

Root dry weight/plant (g)

Root/shoot ratio

Number of primary branches

Number of secondary branches

Ascochyta blight (0-9)

Alternaria leaf blight (0-9)

Botrytis grey mold (0-9)

































































Table is showing mean, minimum, maximum and significance level for different traits. The genotypes showed significant variations for the measured traits. In general, experimental lines showed more prostrate growth at early state, higher emergence, better freeze tolerance, higher biomass, root and shoot dry weight compared to commercial checks grown in the USA. The mean primary and secondary branch count was similar between experimental lines and US commercial checks. Ascochyta blight, Alternaria leaf blight and Botrytis grey mold diseases were detected in the trials. Check varieties, CDC Orion, CDC leader and Sawyer showed high level of infection (5-6 rating out of 9) for Ascochyta blight. Multiple experimental lines showed high level of resistance (0 rating out of 9) to all three diseases. Though the experiment experienced multiple freezing events between mid-January to early March, many experimental lines showed minimum to no freeze injury. From the first-year study, we will select 5-6 chickpea lines for year 2 and 3 studies.


Objective 3: Measure insect and disease pressure in the rotational crops:

  • Measure insect and disease pressure in the rotated crops:

Insect sampling in the chickpea plots began on 13 January 2022 and will conclude on 24 March 2022. Three sampling techniques were employed: 1) in situ counts conducted every other, 2) pheromone baited wing traps checked weekly, and 3) unbaited yellow sticky traps placed in the field every other week.

During in situ counts, chickpea plants were checked for beet armyworm, Spodotera  exigua, and corn earworn (Helicoverpa zea) caterpillars, leaf mines, and aphids. Other pests and beneficial insects seen on the plants were also recorded. Two plants in each of 30 randomly selected plots were sampled on each sampling date for a total of 60 plant. As of the 10 March sample. Few insects have been seen on chickpea plants. These included 4 aphids, 2 leaf mines, 5 leaf hoppers, a flea beetle, and a parasitoid wasp. A pod with two holes chewed in it was also noted.

Pheromone baited wing traps were used to monitor for beet armyworm and corn earworm moths. Nine traps were baited with each pheromone for a total of 18 traps. The sticky card in each trap was changed out weekly and the lure were replaced on 17 February. An average of 0 to 0.33 beet armyworm moths per trap were collected until 10 March when the number jumped to 1 beet armyworm moth per trap. Trends for the corn earworm moth were similar. An average of 0 to 0.22 corn earworm moths per trap was collected between 20 January and 24 February. Average corn earworm moths per trap increased to 0.56 and 1 on 3 March and 10 March respectively.

Thirty unbaited yellow sticky traps were deployed throughout the field to monitor for aphids, leaf miner flies (Liriomyza spp.), other pests, predators, and parasitoids. An average of 1.1 to 3.8 aphids per trap have been recorded so far. Leaf miner numbers have remained below and average of 1 per trap. Thrips were a common pest seen on yellow sticky traps with an average of 2.2, 2.4, 10.2, and 19.7 recorded from traps collected on 20 january, 3 February, 17 February, and 3 march respectively. Other pests noted included hoppers, flea beetles and an occasional whitefly. The most common predators were spider (Arachnida). Lady beetles (Coccinellidae), rove beetle (Staphylinidae), syrphid flies (Syrphidae), a big-eyed bug (Geocoris sp.), brown lacewings (Chrysomelidae) were also noted. An average of 4.4 and 7.6 parasitoid wasps per trap were collected each sampling week.   

  • Major changes or problems?

The biggest challenge was determining what to sample. Chickpea is grown primarily in the Northern US. Therefore, some of its key pests are not present in Southern US. We sampled for corn earworm, H. Zea, because it occupies a similar niche in North America. Three species of Liriomyza that occur in Florida: American Serpentine Leafminer, L. trifolii, Vegetable Leafminer, L. sativae, and Pea Leafminer, L. huidobrensis, so we sampled for those.

Objective 5: Incorporate stakeholder’ recommendations in the evaluation of project activities, conduct outreach and training, and disseminate findings on the potential dual-purpose of chickpea in agricultural production systems.

  • Our research team is forming a 10-member Advisory Council (AC) to conduct biannual advisory council meetings and Field Research Assessments. The goal of the Advisory Council's work is to shorten the time between identifying stakeholders' challenges and opportunities and adopting innovations based on the findings. 
  • Team meetings: we organized several team meetings to elaborate and review the documents necessary for our research activities (Advisory Council and Field Research Assessment) to create the list of the research participants and plan the research activities.
  • Research Documents/UF IRB Approval: we elaborated the informed consent, facilitator guide, and the Advisory Council's recruitment materials. We submitted those documents to the Institutional Review Board at the University of Florida (UF IRB) for approbation before recruiting the research participants. We now have full approbation from UF IRB to organize the Advisory Council.
  • Recruitment Process for the Advisory Council (AC): we created the first list of ten potential research participants for the Advisory council composed of farmers, extension personnel, distributors, and food processors. We have contacted all of them. 4 people (2 growers, a seed producer, and a minor crop expert) have agreed to participate, and we had six non-responses. We plan to do a follow-up to understand if the six remaining do not agree to participate. Then, we will create another list of potential participants to recruit ten members for the advisory council. Also, we planned to recruit our research participants via phone and email. We will now try to recruit in person and make this change in our protocol for the Institutional Review Board at the University of Florida (UF IRB) accordingly. We hope to organize our first Advisory Council in April 2022. We will make a field visit and organize a team meeting to elaborate our research instrument, informed consent, and recruitment materials and submit them to UF IRB for approval. Then, we will recruit the research participants, schedule, and perform the field research assessment. 
  • We have also created facilitator guide for the Advisory Council

 What we plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the project goals: 

Year 2 (2022-2023)

  • Plant the selected chickpea varieties and one rye variety in rotation with corn at PSREU, Citra, FL and Florida A and M University (FAMU) Research and Extension Center, Quincy.
  • Assess chickpea varieties for yield, diseases and insect incidence, and N-fixation.
  • Assess N cycling, N mineralization, and the temporal release of N from chickpea residues over time during the rotational crop, corn, using traditional methods.
  • Assess soil health indicators, soil protein and permanganate-oxidizable C (POXC), before chickpea planting, after chickpea termination, and after corn harvest.
  • Setup an experiment at PSREU to trace 15N in the three most promising varieties. After harvesting of chickpeas, corn will be planted to evaluate N credits to corn, by tracing 15N from chickpea residues to the soil and corn.
  • Quantify the major corn pests including the corn earworm (CEW), European corn borer (ECB), and Southern corn rootworm (SCR). Additionally, beneficial insects such as parasitoids and predators will be monitored.
  • Assess corn yield, test weight, etc. at harvest.
  • Collect and analyze economic data.
  • Conduct biannual AC meetings.
  • The Field Research Assessments will be conducted by small groups (maximum of 10 participants) who are convened ad hoc.
  • Conduct separate assessments for growers and for technical advisors.
  • Conduct four quarterly meeting of project team members.
  • Present the data at the Florida Entomological Society, Entomological Society of America, ASA-CSSA Annual Meeting, Regional ASA meetings in 2022. We will also participate in upcoming field days and workshops.
Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

The Extension component of this project has three target groups. The first is agricultural professionals working for state and federal agencies. Successful introduction of chickpea as a dual purpose crop will require that Extension personnel and other technical advisors have a thorough understanding of the potential benefits and risks to adopting this innovation so that they can assist farmers in developing a plan for adoption that will minimize risks. We will work with the leadership of the Florida Association of County Agricultural Extension Agents (FACAA) and the Florida Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals (FANREP) to coordinate activities with agents throughout the state and we will present the results of the project at the annual meeting of the Extension Professional Associations of Florida. Other critical agencies include the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences (FDACS) and the Florida offices of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA). We will invite representatives of these agencies, all of which have regional offices in the states, to the field days we offer and to the virtual seminars (see below). We will target specifically representatives who work in the north central and northwest extension regions where our research will occur and where conditions for chickpea production are greatest within Florida. We will provide these technical advisors (Extension and others) with in-depth training through virtual workshops, described below, that cover topics like how to develop realistic budgets for chickpea production or use as a cover crop, changes that may be needed in the timing of the cropping cycle, and potential problems related to pest, weed and disease management that may emerge with the introduction of a new crop into the farmer’s farming operation.

The second and most important target population consists of farmers in Florida and neighboring states. Four farmers who are conducting on-farm trials will host 2-3 hour field days, one in North Central Florida in Year 2 and one in North Florida in Year 3. Drs. Ruiz and Swisher will work closely with the farmers and with the researchers on our team to develop active learning activities to enhance participant learning. For example, in other research we have completed pest identification activities at field days when new or emerging pests that farmers may not know well emerge during the trials. We will break participants into small groups based on similarities in their farming systems to participate in small-group discussions in which participants analyze the advantages and benefits of an innovation for their farming systems, and identify the potential pitfalls and barriers to adoption. We will also ask the president of the Florida Black Famers and Agriculturalists’ Association to encourage members to participate in the planned field days and on-line workshops and webinars. This is a critical outreach component for us in part because Marion County, where PSREU is located, has the third greatest number of Black-owned farms of all counties in the United States (2012 Census of Agriculture data).

The third target audience consists of farmers and other agricultural professionals throughout the Southern region and potentially nationwide. In Y3, we will produce two webinars to present our findings and conclusions. We will first present these webinars through synchronous workshops focusing on individuals Extension and other agencies identified above. After completing these workshops, we will make the materials available for asynchronous viewing through the publicly accessible website of the UF Center for Sustainable and Organic Food Systems. We anticipate that our results will fuel interest and activities in the scientific and extension community. Thus, we propose to present our findings during the Tri-Societies (Crop Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy and Soil Science Society of America) conference in Year 3 of the project. Dr. Alex Bolques, collaborator on this project, will present out research at one of the Extension events conducted at the Florida A&M University (FAMU) Research & Extension Center in Quincy, FL. We will present our findings at the Southern Agricultural Workers Conference hosted by Tuskegee University and will invite Mr. Russell Bean, faculty member at Tuskegee University, to use our materials with our participation if needed through his on-going webinar series that attracts framers from the target geographic area of this project. We will develop a summary of the research results for the University of Florida extension publication service (EDIS) for use by county agents in Florida and publish our results in refereed journals devoted to agronomy and environmental management.

Information Products

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.