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Genotype By Environment Studies Across Australia Reveal The Importance Of Phenology For Chickpea (Cicer Arietinum L.) Improvement

J. D. Berger, N. C. Turner, K. H. M. Siddique, E. J. Knights, R. B. Brinsmead, I. Mock, C. Edmondson, T. N. Khan

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Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) genotypes comprising released cultivars, advanced breeding lines, and landraces of Australian, Mediterranean basin, Indian, and Ethiopian origin were evaluated at 5 representative sites (Merredin, WA; Minnipa, SA; Walpeup, Vic.; Tamworth, NSW; Warwick, Qld) over 2 years. Data on plant stand, early vigour, phenology, productivity, and yield components were collected at each site. Site yields ranged from 0.3 t/ha at Minnipa in 1999 to 3.5 t/ha at Warwick in 1999. Genotype by environment (G × E) interaction was highly significant. Principal components analysis revealed contrasting genotype interaction behaviour at dry, low-yielding sites (Minnipa 1999, Merredin 2000) and higher rainfall, longer growing-season environments (Tamworth 2000). Genotype clusters performing well under stress tended to yield well at all sites except Tamworth in 2000, and were characterised by early phenology and high harvest index, but were not different in terms of biomass or early vigour. Some of these traits were strongly influenced by germplasm origin. The material with earliest phenology came from Ethiopia, and southern and central India, with progressively later material from northern India and Australia, and finally the Mediterranean. There was a delay between the onset of flowering and podding at all sites, which was related to average temperatures immediately post-anthesis (r = –0.81), and therefore larger in early flowering material (>30 days at some sites). Harvest index was highest in Indian and Ethiopian germplasm, whereas crop height was greatest in Australian and Mediterranean accessions. Some consistently high yielding genotypes new to the Australian breeding program were identified (ICCV 10, BG 362), and the existing cultivar Lasseter was also confirmed to be very productive.