Five chickpea cultivars, Chitoui, Neyer, Kasseb, Beja 1 and Bouchra, were planted on three sowing dates at two Experimental Stations in Tunisia: Bou Salem in the north and the more southerly Mornag, where the climate is drier. Severity of blight, caused by Ascochyta rabiei, was measured on a 1–9 scale (defined) on vegetative parts and on pods as percent infected and percent infected that were empty. At both locations, disease was essentially absent on plants sown on the third dates but present on plants sown on the two earlier dates. At Bou Salem, disease severity was highest for the second sowing date whereas at Mornag it was highest for the first sowing date; but for each sowing date, disease severity was lower at Mornag than at Bou Salem. Yield components were measured as number of pods per plant, number of seeds per plant, number of seeds per 100 pods, 100 seed weight and weight of seeds per plant. Both disease severity and yield differed significantly among sowing dates (differently at each location) and also among cultivars for each sowing date, these differences depending both on sowing date and location. A lower yield was always associated with a higher disease severity, although the quantitative relationship differed between cultivars and locations. Cultivar Beja 1 had the lowest vegetative disease scores at both locations and both sowing dates 1 and 2. Beja 1 also scored well for all yield components. Plants sown on the third (latest) date gave the highest yields for all cultivars at both locations (except for an unusually high yield of Neyer at Mornag on sowing date 2), in some instances being more than double those from the earlier sowing dates. Thus, in contrast to other studies, late sowing did not result in yield loss
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