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Effect of Delayed Planting on Membrane Injury and Yield of Six Chickpea Genotypes

P.S. Deshmukh1, Tejpal Singh1, S.R. Kushwaha1, L.S. Rao1, Neil C. Turner2, S.S. Yadav3 and Kumar3

1Division of Plant Physiology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi-110012, India
CSIRO Plant Industry, Private Bag No.5, Wembley, WA 6913 and Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture,
University of Western Australia, WA 6009, Australia
Division of Genetics, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi-110012, India


Chickpea planting is often delayed in north-western India due to the development of the rice-wheat system. Studies have been conducted into the association between the important physiological traits of membrane injury, biomass yield and seed yield when planting is delayed. The results indicated that at the intermediate date of planting, there was less membrane injury among six chickpea genotypes compared with early and late dates of planting. The maximum values of seed yield were also recorded at the intermediate date of planting. The three advance breeding lines had lower membrane injury and higher yields than the released cultivars. We conclude that membrane injury may be a useful screening tool to identify genotypes that will withstand higher temperatures in the reproductive phase and are suitable for late planting.

Media Summary

The emphasis is given on making use of membrane injury for screening large number of breeding materials of chickpea under adverse temperature conditions.

Key Words

Breeding lines, harvest index, screening technique, temperature stress, yield components


The major constraints for low productivity are abiotic stresses like water, temperature, nutrients and salts. Among them water stress and temperature stress are the most important abiotic stresses for growth and productivity. It has been reported by many researches that rice-chickpea is more remunerative than rice-wheat cropping system in north-western part of India. Under such situations the crop has to be sown up to the end of December due to late harvest of rice. Late sown chickpea crop experience low temperatures at sowing and high temperatures at the end of the cropping season. Low temperatures at the initial stage of crop growth result in poor and slow vegetative growth, whereas high temperatures at the end of cropping season lead to forced maturity and poor biomass (Chaturvedi and Dua, 2003). In chickpea, 40-50% of the terminal flowers abort in some varieties due to the high temperatures near the end of flowering. Thus a large part of the reproductive phase, both early and late, is exposed to cold and high temperatures, respectively, reducing seed yields by up to 50% (Dua, 2001). The trait of high membrane stability index (Deshmukh et al., 1996, 2000; Gupta, 1996) has been suggested as suitable for screening a large number of genotypes for resistance to stress. This study reports on the association between physiological traits and yields at three planting times using relatively simple and easily-used technique that could be used for screening of large number of genotypes in breeding programs.

Materials and methods

Six chickpea genotypes, three released varieties, namely Pusa 256, Pusa 372, BGD 72, and three advance breeding lines, namely DG 36, DG 46 and DG 51 were sown at three dates of planting, i.e. 15 November, 30 November and 15 December 2002, under field conditions at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. The plants were sown in plots that were 1.8 m wide (6 rows by 0.3 m between rows) and 5 m long in a split plot design with three replications. Plant samples were collected for the study of physiological indices of membrane injury (Deshmukh et al., 1991) at the vegetative, flowering and pod formation stages. At maturity, 10 plants were selected at random from the two centre rows, oven dried at 80oC to constant weight and weighed. The seeds were then threshed from the rest of the plant, redried to constant weight and the seed weight determined. The data was statistically analyzed by the procedure given by Panse and Sukhatme (1985).

Results and discussion

Membrane injury

The percent membrane injury at the vegetative, flowering and pod formation stages in six chickpea genotypes planted at the three dates of sowing are shown in Fig. 1. The data show that percent membrane injury was lowest at the vegetative stage and thereafter increased up to pod formation stage. Later planting significantly increased membrane injury at all phenophases. A delay in planting resulted in an increase in membrane injury in wheat (Islam et al., 1998). As regards the genotypes, significantly higher membrane injury values were observed in Pusa 372 (30.8%), BGD 72 (30.5%), Pusa 256 (25.0%) and DG 46 (24.0%) compared with DG 36 (22.2%) at the vegetative stage and were higher in DG 51 (37.8%), DG 46 (40.3%), Pusa 256 (42.2%), BGD 72 (47.3%) and Pusa 372 (50.7%) than in DG 36 (36.7%) at the flowering stage. At the pod formation stage the membrane injury was higher than the earlier stages, indicative of greater stress at this stage and significantly higher injury was observed among all the genotypes in comparison to DG 36 (53.8%). In general, the variety Pusa 372 showed the greatest membrane injury at all phonological stages, whereas the injury was least in the advance breeding line DG 36. Overall, the released varieties recorded significantly higher membrane injury compared to the advance breeding lines under all planting conditions and growth stages. Ion leakage can also be used as an index for screening genotypes against heat and drought stresses in soybean (Krishnamani et al., 1984) and chickpea (Deshmukh et al., 2000). Gupta et al. (2000) observed that genotypes that were more tolerant to moisture stress, had lower membrane injury (less ion leakage), higher seedling growth, greater osmotic adjustment, higher water use efficiency and a lower drought susceptibility index.

Fig.1. Membrane injury of six chickpea genotypes at three phenological stages as influenced by time of planting.

Biomass yield

The biomass yield decreased significantly in all genotypes when sown on 15 December compared with the two earlier plantings (Table 1). The highest mean biomass yield was observed at the first time of planting (24.5 g/plant) and least at the the third time of planting (18.2 g/plant). Among the genotypes, Pusa 256 (22.8 g/plant), BGD 72 (24.0 g/plant) and DG 36 (24.6 g/plant) had significantly higher yields than DG 46 (20.2 g/plant). It is worthwhile to mention that non-significant difference was observed between the biomass yield of the advance lines was not significantly different from the released cultivars. However, the advance breeding line DG 36 had the highest biomass yield per plant at the first and second time of planting, whereas BGD 72 had a significantly higher biomass yield at the third date of planting.

Seed yield

Seed yield is the final outcome of all the biomass processes from germination to maturity. The highest seed yield per plant occurred when the plants were sown on 30 November with yields 10% higher than yields of chickpeas sown 15 days earlier and 22% higher than chickpeas sown 20 days later (Table 1). Regarding the performance of the individual genotypes, significantly higher seed yields were obtained in DG 36 (7.55 g/plant) followed by BGD 72 (5.50 g/plant), DG 46 (5.47 g/plant), DG 51 (5.53 g/plant), Pusa 372 (5.17 g/plant) and Pusa 256 (4.93 g/plant). The advance breeding lines had significantly higher yields than the released varieties. Significantly higher seed yields were obtained in all the genotypes compared to Pusa 256. This clearly indicated that there was significant genetic improvements in seed yield in the advanced breeding lines.

Harvest index

The values for harvest index were higher at the third time of planting (27.0%) followed by the second and first times of planting (26.4% and 23.3%), respectively (Table 1). Among the genotypes, the highest harvest index was recorded in DG 36 and least in Pusa 256. The average harvest index of the fixed advance breeding lines was significantly higher (27.9%) compared with the released varieties (23.2%). High harvest index values were also observed in DG 36 at the second (32.1%) and third (33.1%) times of planting. The released variety Pusa 256 showed the lowest harvest index at all three planting times.

Table. 1. Seed yield, biomass yield and harvest index of chickpea genotypes as influenced by time of planting


Date of planting


Nov. 15

Nov. 30

Dec. 15


Biomass yield (g/plant)

Pusa 256





Pusa 372





BGD 72

























LSD (P = 0.05)

Planting time (P) = 0.841

Genotype (G) = 0.868

PxG = 1.504

Seed yield (g/plant)

Pusa 256





Pusa 372





BGD 72





DG -36




















LSD (P = 0.05)

Planting time (P) = 0.2201

Genotype (G) = 0.211

PxG = 0.365

Harvest index (%)

Pusa 256





Pusa 372





BGD 72

























LSD (P = 0.05)

Planting time (P) = 0.698

Genotype (G) = 0.616

PxG = 1.067

On the basis of yield performance, the advance breeding line DG 36 was found to be superior compared to the other advance breeding lines and released genotypes. The results also indicate that planting at the end of November was better than earlier and later times of planting. Previous work has shown that a high pod production is required for high yields in chickpea (Singh et al., 1997, Dua, 2001, Chaichi and Farahani, 2003 and Hegde et al., 2003). Planting on 30 November at this location in northern India had the advantage that the chickpeas escaped the low temperatures at early podding as well as the high temperatures during seed filling compared to the earlier planting on 15 November and the later planting on 20 December. Shrestha et al. (2002) reported that soil moisture stress in the post- flowering period showed significant variation in phenology, above-ground biomass, pod number, seeds per pod and seed yield of lentil genotypes. Delay in planting reduced the biomass yield, but increased the harvest index. However, at the first time of planting the low temperatures at flowering probably resulted in flower drop and pod abortion resulting in a low seed yield. On the other hand, at the third date of planting the high harvest index was insufficient to compensate for the low biomass yield resulting in a lower seed yield than at the second date of planting.


We conclude that a delay in planting into December at New Delhi will result in lower chickpea yields, whereas a delay in planting until the end of November may be preferable to the traditional mid-November planting date. The new advanced breeding lines in the pipeline show less membrane injury, particularly at pod formation, and higher yields compared to the current released varieties. The correlation between low membrane injury and high yield suggests that the higher yielding genotypes have higher yields due to greater stress tolerance. We suggest that selection for low membrane injury may be a suitable tool for screening genotypes able to produce high yields at the higher temperatures that prevail from late planting in the rice/wheat system.


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