Production area and history
Family: Leguminosae (Fabaceae)
Species: Cicer arietinum L., 1753
Chickpea is a product of long tradition in Tuscany and in particular in the Maremma. The diffusion of the cultivation of this variety of chickpea in different areas of the Grosseto Maremma has suggested that the name Cece di Sorano be added to that of rough chickpea from the Maremma.
Wrinkled chickpea from the Maremma
The variety is characterized by small size seeds (diameter 0.8cm) and a light hazel color.
Maremma rough chickpea - Flowering (photo http://germoplasma.arsia.toscana.it)
It spreads over a wide range of soils, preferring the deep, well-drained ones in which, due to the remarkable development of its root system, it resists drought well. It is not very tolerant of saline and alkaline soils and the excessive presence of active limestone adversely affects the quality of the grain (the seeds have a thicker and more impermeable integument). The species has water consumption throughout the crop cycle which can be estimated at around 450 mm: its morpho-physiological characteristics allow it to have an excellent ability to extract water from the soil so it can be made without artificial water supplies. On the contrary, the excess of rain favors the development of fungal diseases, fruit set problems and often excessive vegetative development due to subsequent enticements. The influence of temperature on the development of the plant, on its phenology and reproduction, is particularly evident during the formation of the flower buttons (at least 25 ° C are required) and during the formation of the seed (temperatures above 30 ° C can be harmful).
It is an improvement crop which, through lazotofixation, leaves a quantity of nitrogen equal to about 30-40 kg / ha in the soil; due to the rather early harvest period compared to other crops, it allows the main tillage to be carried out early with significant benefits for the following crop. For sanitary reasons, it is preferable to avoid too tight alternations preferring wider rotations: to return to the same plot, it is preferable to respect a time interval of at least 4 years.
In consideration of its important radical growth, it is necessary to adopt deep processes that favor the accumulation of water and the vertical development of the roots; to the traditional medium depth plowing, we can also carry out two-layer tillage techniques, breaking down the soil more deeply, mixing the soil only in the most superficial layer (25-30cm).
In areas where the production potential is high, the plant is operated with 80 kg / ha of phosphorus (P2O5). As for potassium, this is administered according to the soil supply up to a maximum dose of 80 kg K2O / ha. As far as nitrogen is concerned, this can be administered in small doses (10-20 kg / ha) at the beginning of the cycle, in the event that the symbiosis is difficult to establish. In the event that the symbiotic process has not been successfully established, and the plants show diffuse yellowing, a distribution of mineral nitrogen on the roof may be necessary.
The traditional sowing period is spring (March) when the soil temperature reaches values of the order of 8-10 ° C. The Maremma rough chickpea variety, like other chickpea varieties, can also be sown in the autumn (from mid-October to mid-November). Sowing in autumn allows higher yields, better quality grain, reduction of the risks linked to the arrival of the summer drought.
The plant, both autumn and spring, provides a distance between the rows from a minimum of 25 cm to a maximum of 50 cm with plants spaced on the row of 5-10 cm so that the unit investment is equal to 25-40 plants per m2 . In the chickpea grown organically, distances between the larger rows (50 cm) are adopted also to allow interventions of weeding in the inter-row.
The negative action of weeds is not limited to the competitive effect only, but also to an increase in the difficulties and losses in the collection with increases in broken grain and stained by the cellular juices of the often still green weeds.
Chickpea is attacked by some fungal adversities affecting the root system such as Rhizoctonia spp., Fusarium spp. and Verticillum spp., while the aerial apparatus can be attacked by rust (Uromyces cicer-arietini) and by anger or anthracnose (Ascochyta rabiei). In organic production, phytosanitary problems are solved with copper salts, low crop densities and long rotations, while seed tanning with synthetic products is not allowed.
Among the insects that attack the chickpea we remember: the polyphagous larva of Heliotis armigera, the weevils or caterpillars (Callosobruchus spp.).
Maremma rough chickpea - Ripening (photo http://germoplasma.arsia.toscana.it)
The harvest is done at the beginning of the summer, by hand or with a combine in relation to the size of the cultivated area.
The national average yield is around 1.1 t / ha. The production in straw residues is equal to or greater than that in seeds.
Seed production: the crop from seed for reproduction does not differ in the cultivation technique. It is an autogamous plant with little possibility of cross fertilization ((1%). Therefore, large spatial isolations between cultivars or different populations (300 m) are not required. It is useful instead to check the uniformity of the plants and the seed, as well as to check the quality and seed health.
The conservation of the dry grain is carried out in dry and ventilated places with seed moisture lower than 12% (around 9%). Chickpea is less susceptible than the bean to insect attack during storage.
Use in the kitchen
The chickpeas are dried and used in a plurality of ways: as such, as decorticated cotyledons, as flour after having decorticated them, germinated to treat vitamin deficiencies, since in them the content in vitamin C is double that in dormant seeds.