Vertisols are suited to dry-land crop production in semi-arid environments since the residual moisture in the soil can support crop growth after the end of the rainy season. However, traditional cropping systems seldom utilize residual moisture of Vertisols for crop production. Farmers need suitable crop species to sustain and enhance their production under such soil and climatic conditions. Chickpea is the strategic crop well adapted to Vertisols and derives most of its water requirements from the residual soil moisture. Yet, different chickpea varieties found to adapt and produce different yields at different locations. The experiments were conducted for two consecutive years (2016 and 2017) on farmers training centers in two districts of Southern Ethiopia. Six released varieties; Arerti, Habru, Yelibe, Naatolii, Fetenech, Kutaye and a Local check were used for the experiment. The trials were laid in a randomized complete block design with four replicates. Data were collected on phenological traits, growth and yield attributes, and grain yield. The results showed that there was significant variation among the tested chickpea varieties in all the agronomic traits recorded. Varieties Arerti and Habru revealed superiority in grain yield, pod setting, hundred seed weight and biomass over the Local check across locations. Based on yielding performance and farmers’ preference, varieties Arerti and Habru are recommended for production in the selected districts and similar agro-ecologies in southern Ethiopia.
Keywords: Chickpea; residual moisture; variety, Vertisols