Screening chickpea for adaptation to water stress: Associations between yield and crop growth rate

Dr Lachlan Lake, Victor O. Sadras

South Australian Research and Development Institute, Hartley Grove, Urrbrae 5064,


Robust associations between yield and crop growth rate in a species-specific critical developmental window have been demonstrated in many crops. In this study we focus on genotype-driven variation in crop growth rate and its association with chickpea yield under drought. We measured crop growth rate using Normalised Difference Vegetative Index (NDVI) in 20 diverse chickpea lines, after calibration of NDVI against biomass accounting for morphological differences between Kabuli and Desi types. Crops were grown in eight environments resulting from the combination of seasons, sowing dates and water supply, returning a yield range from 152 to 366 g m-2. For both sources of variation, environment and genotype, yield correlated with crop growth rate in the window 300 oCd before flowering to 200 oCd after flowering. In the range of crop growth rate from 0.07 to 0.91 g m-2 oCd-1, the relationship was linear with zero intercept, as with other indeterminate grain legumes. Genotype-driven associations between yield and crop growth rate were stronger under water stress than under favourable conditions. Despite this general trend, lines were identified with high crop growth rate in both favourable and stress conditions. We demonstrate that calibrated NDVI is a rapid, inexpensive screening tool to capture a physiologically meaningful link between yield and crop growth rate in chickpea.


The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

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David Marland Photography Southern Farming Systems Agriculture Victoria

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