We’ve been growing Black Kabouli chickpeas at Tourne-Sol for a few years.
We’ve been quite successful getting plants covered in pods with 2 chickpeas per pod.
But when it comes to harvesting and threshing these chickpeas. I’ve been pretty frustrated!
Normally, we wait until the pods on leguminous seed crops (such as beans or peas) are about 3/4 mature & dry. Then we pull the whole plant and let them finish drying in the greenhouse protected from any potential rain. Then we thresh the fully dry plants and voilà! We’ve got bins of nice peas and beans.
This just hasn’t worked with chickpeas.
Let me tell you why it hasn’t worked and what we’re trying differently this year.
The chickpea problem
The pods on chickpea plants mature over a number of weeks. This means that on the same plants, I’ll find fully dry pods with mature chickpeas and also green pods that have barely begun to form a chickpea. And a number of pods in the middle.
Look at these next two pictures to see what I’m talking about!
In the past when I’ve waited for most of the pods to mature before pulling whole plants, this meant leaving dry pods out in the rain for many weeks while the rest the plants mature.
The plants get rained on many times.
With all this extra moisture, the chickpea seeds in the most mature pods start to get mouldy.
I do not like this mould.
Not one bit.
How I hope we can solve the chickpea problem
I wonder whether we can pull chickpea plants earlier – when about 1/3 of the pods are mature with dry seed, 1/3 of the plants have green pods with big fat maturing seed, and 1/3 of the plants have green pods with itty bitty little seeds just starting to swell.
We would then spread the chickpea plants in the greenhouse to keep maturing.
For this to work, the still maturing seeds would need to finish ripening on the pulled plants in the greenhouse.
Here’s a picture of some the ripening pods I’m hoping will ripen after pulling up the whole plants. They are still really green inside.
Let’s test that hypothesis
We have about 300 Black Kabouli chickpea plants in the field.
Last week, we harvested some of them in 3 different ways to see what happens.
- We harvested 30 whole plants that were 1/3 dry, 1/3 maturing, 1/3 green.
- We harvested the most mature branches of another 30 plants trying to leave the greenest branches behind.
- We harvested the few plants that seemed to be 3/4 dry from the rest of the section.
We left 200 plants in the field.
We brought each of our 3 trials in to the greenhouse and spread them on 3 separate tarps. Each tarp was clearly labelled with the harvest trial.
Next week, we’ll harvest another 100 whole plants or so.
The following week, we’ll harvest the remaining plants.
This will leave us with 5 lots in the greenhouse.
Once the plants have finished drying, we will process each lot separately using the following steps
- visually inspect the chickpeas in the pods to see whether the green pods did mature
- thresh and clean the whole lot
- visually inspect the cleaned lot to see if we’ve managed to only extract mature seed and whether any seed is mouldy
- perform a germination test on the lot
We will then be able to determine which harvest method and period is best.
I hope we determine that we can simply pull the plants with 1/3 dry, 1/3 maturing and 1/3 green. It would be easiest for us.
I’ll keep you posted!
Do you have any tricks to get great quality chickpea seeds in a humid climate?