Water deficiency is commonly the most important yield -restraining factor in semi-arid and Mediterranean environments. Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), which is one the main legume crops of the region, often experiences terminal drought. To investigate the response of chickpea genotypes to different irrigation levels, experiments were conducted in Maragheh, Northwest Iran. Three levels of irrigation including zero (rain-fed condition), full irrigation (enough water to fill the root zone profile) and two supplement irrigations (SIs) during flowering and grain filling stages were evaluated over 2013 growing season. Results revealed that plant height, canopy spread, primary and secondary branches, chlorophyll content, day to maturity, grain yield and yield components were significantly affected by irrigation regimes. However, there was no statistically significant difference between full irrigation and SI for number of pods per plant, number of seeds per pod, 100-grain weight, grain yield per unit area and grain filling rate. The seed yield of the genotypes when grown under the full irrigation condition increased at a rate of 58% over those in rain-fed condition. Investigation of grain yield and drought resistance indices revealed that FLIP 98-106C and Arman can be selected as the best tolerant genotypes to rain-fed condition. In general, under semi-arid conditions and where some limited water resources are available, SI could be an efficient management practice for alleviating the unfavourable effects of soil moisture stress on the yield of rain-fed chickpea during crucial reproductive growth stages.
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