Chickpea producers are hoping scientists can get to the bottom on a new plant health issue that has been impacting the crop for the last two years.

Producers taking part in a recent Sask Pulses Webinar series got an update on what's happening.

Sask Pulse Agronomy Manager Sherrilyn Phelps says a Chickpea Diagnostic Team has been developed.

"Underway is research at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatoon using the DNA scans to see if they can pull up populations of organisms that may be involved. Soil potassium and electrical conductivity levels are being evaluated by Dr. Jeff Schoenau at the University of Saskatchewan and soil was also sent to Dr. Mario Tenuta at the University of Manitoba to be evaluated for nematodes."

She notes in January new project co-funding was announced through SPG and Saskatchewan ADF to investigate the cause of this Chickpea issue and to try to reproduce the symptoms under controlled environments.

"To summarize the results to date, there is no one cause of the chickpea health issue, and it is very puzzling, as well as very frustrating. We know through the work of agronomists on field histories that one consistency appears to be the environment. The majority of the fields were dry into late June in both 2019 and 2020. Rain events in late June and early July, as well as higher humidity seem to be factors that occurred just prior to the symptoms developing."

In some cases whole fields were affected, while it was just patches in other fields.

She notes there seems to be some discussion around soil compaction as that seemed to be the worse hit areas of the field.

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