Revised October, 2018.
Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, (Cicer arientinum) belong to the legume family, which includes a variety of beans, peanuts, soybeans and lentils. Although the common chickpea in the market is tan or beige, there are also yellow, red, dark green or brown varieties. The two main varieties of chickpeas are the large, light-seeded kabuli type, referred to as garbanzo beans, and the small, dark-seeded desi type.
Chickpeas are native to the Mediterranean region and are a major ingredient of many Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Indian dishes, such as hummus, falafels and Indian curries. Growth in domestic demand for chickpea-containing products have helped to support prices and expand growth in production.
Chickpeas offer specific benefits to a healthy diet. A one cup serving of chickpeas provides 29 percent of the daily value of protein and 49 percent of the daily value of fiber. They also contain vitamins and minerals and significantly boost your intake of manganese and folate.
Nearly all domestic pulse crop (grain legume) production is marketed through processors, with about 20 percent of production contracted and the majority (80 percent) sold on the cash market. Chickpeas take many forms as food items. In North America, most kabuli chickpeas are marketed as canned chickpeas for salads. They are also marketed as dry chickpeas and ground flour for baking purposes.
In 2017, approximately 69 million cwt of chickpeas were produced in the U.S. on approximately 6.2 million acres, yielding an average of approximately 1,152 pounds per acre. Total U.S. acreage of chickpeas planted was up 53 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. Chickpeas are grown primarily in Montana (35 percent of total production), Washington (32 percent), Idaho (19 percent), and North Dakota (7 percent). Washington leads the nation in the production of large kabuli chickpeas and small desi chickpeas. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) figures, India is the world’s largest producer of chickpeas, followed by Australia and Pakistan.
In recent years, the pricing of chickpea has been calculated according to a three-tiered pricing schedule based on seed size. According to the USDA ERS, the season-average price for chickpeas was $3.08 per pound in 2017.
The economic viability of a specialty crop such as chickpea will ultimately depend on several factors such as market development, contract and seed pricing, and production capability.
Crop Production 2017 Summary USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
Vegetables and Pulses Outlook (2017)
Chickpea Production in the High Plains (South Dakota State University, University of Wyoming, and University of Nebraska)
Chickpea Production Guide Dryland (Oregon State University, 2004)
Chickpea Production, Montana State University Extension