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New chickpea offers regional balance

NSW DPI’s Chickpea Breeder Dr Kristy Hobson in a field of CBA Captain (PBR) chickpeas. The new variety is broadly adapted to all Australian chickpea growing regions.
Photo: NSW DPI

Key Points:

  • CBA Captain has broad adaptation to all Australian chickpea growing regions
  • It performed well in newer and established chickpea growing areas
  • It is the first variety released under Chickpea Breeding Australia (CBA)
  • The new collaboration between GRDC and the New South Wales Government, delivered from the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI’s) Tamworth Agricultural Institute, aims to improve outputs in traditional growing regions and new areas

In one of its first planting seasons, new chickpea variety CBA Captain performed well in new regions as well as established chickpea growing areas, achieving the spread that Chickpea Breeding Australia (CBA) is hoping to achieve.

The erect desi type is CBA’s first release and encompasses what the new $30 million, five-year program aims to achieve – broad adaptation to all Australian chickpea growing regions.

To date, the majority of chickpea production increases have occurred in northern NSW and southern Queensland, yet growers outside these regions also want access to suitable varieties. The new collaboration between GRDC and the NSW Government aims to address that, while improving outputs in traditional growing regions. CBA will be delivered from the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI’s) Tamworth Agricultural Institute.


CBA Captain has been bred to have early to mid-flowering options, moderate lodging resistance and excellent harvestability. Its harvestability is something that both established chickpea grower Ian Ladner and newer grower Roy Hamilton both noted.

Mr Ladner farms 1600 hectares with his family at Cecil Plains, west of Toowoomba. He planted 85 hectares of CBA Captain into sorghum stubble and harvested two tonnes/ha last season, which compared well with other chickpea varieties planted the same season.

Chickpeas are an important part of Mr Ladner’s rotation, improving soil quality and reducing disease risk. He plants them even if they will not be harvested.

Chickpeas can have harvestability issues and suffer from harvest losses. However, CBA Captain harvested well: “It was an upright plant, which made it easy to harvest. We had no harvest losses, and it was good to thrash,” Ian says.

GRDC Northern Panel member Roy Hamilton was also impressed with the variety’s harvestability. With his family, Mr Hamilton operates a 4400ha mixed farming enterprise near Rand in NSW’s Riverina, a chickpea ‘expansion’ area.

Chickpeas have not traditionally been a ‘go-to’ pulse in this region because of a less suitable soil pH, cool spring temperatures and harvestability concerns with older varieties.

“We’re new to chickpeas. They made up 140ha of a 3600ha program last season, the second year we have attempted to grow them.”

Planting a bit late in June into cold and very wet soil was not ideal, but Mr Hamilton says CBA Captain still did well. “Its height, at 100 to 150 millimetres above the other chickpeas, enthuses me. One of the issues with chickpeas is harvest losses, but these podded well up off the ground so we could get the harvester front under them and minimise cutter-bar losses, which was great.”

CBA Captain was planted alongside other chickpeas. They achieved a 2.6t/ha harvest, equal to the Nelham variety.

The Hamiltons mainly choose faba beans as their pulse crop. “They are robust, and we have grown them on and off for 30 years. But it is good to have another pulse option. Chickpeas can add diversity to our commodities and spread our marketing options.”


Chickpea Breeding Australia will be based at the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) Tamworth Agricultural Institute and CBA Captain is its ‘springboard’ variety for the expansion areas.

DPI chickpea breeder Dr Kristy Hobson says CBA will work on developing varieties for new growing environments in central and southern NSW and Western Australia – areas that need chickpeas with chilling tolerance and tolerance to soils with low pH.

Varieties will be delivered in a faster timeframe, incorporating high-priority traits, by implementing improved breeding technologies and processes and direct variety commercialisation.

DPI crop genetics and market access (north) leader Dr Georgina Pengilley says these varieties will have increased yield and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses and yield stability across a range of soil types.

At Tamworth it is ‘full steam ahead’ with these plans. New infrastructure is already being built, with a new glasshouse coming online mid-year. Two polyhouses, seed storages and processing facilities will be completed in June 2022.

CBA Captain (PBR) was developed by the PBA chickpea program, led by NSW DPI. The partners in that program were GRDC, NSW DPI, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Agriculture Victoria and the South Australian Research and Development Institute.

More information: Kristy Hobson: 02 6763 1174,; Georgina Pengilley, 02 6763 1164,

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