A Randomized Complete Block Design experiment was employed to investigate the genetic diversity and relationships among 20 different chickpea genotypes. This comprehensive study was replicated meticulously on three occasions, spanning two distinct growing seasons: 2019-20 and 2020-2021. The quantitative traits under scrutiny included parameters such as the total days required for maturity, the initiation of flowering, the time taken to reach half flowering, counts of primary and secondary branches, plant height (Measured in centimetres), basal stem height (measured in centimetres), pods per plant, the number of effective pods per plant, seeds per pod, 100-seed weight (measured in grams), biological yield per plant (Measured in grams), harvest index (expressed as a percentage), and seed yield per plant.
In the initial year of investigation, a comprehensive range of genetic parameters were meticulously calculated, including measures of central tendency such as the mean, data variability represented by the range, coefficient of variability, correlations, path-coefficient, and genetic divergence. These metrics played a pivotal role in identifying specific traits with the potential to enhance crop yield. Significantly, it was observed that biological yield per plant exhibited the highest values for both phenotypic and genotypic coefficients of variation, while the days to flower initiation displayed the highest heritability. Additionally, it was worth noting that biological yield ranked as the trait with the most substantial genetic advancement when expressed as a percentage of the mean. The path coefficient analysis conducted in the study shed light on the crucial roles of effective pods and days to half flowering, as they exerted the most pronounced positive direct effects on seed yield per plant.
In the subsequent year's analysis, notable findings emerged with significant values observed for both phenotypic and genotypic coefficients of variation, particularly in the context of 100-seed weight. Furthermore, there was a prominent presence of phenotypic and genotypic variances, along with a noteworthy level of broad-sense heritability recorded for pods per plant. Remarkably, 100-seed weight showcased the highest genetic advance when expressed as a percentage of the mean. The study identified specific high-yielding advanced breeding lines, notably JG14, JG16, and PC-1, as exceptionally promising candidates for crop improvement and breeding initiatives. Genotypic and phenotypic path coefficient analyses revealed the paramount importance of certain traits in contributing to seed yield per plant. In the initial year, this was exemplified by the strong positive direct effects of effective pods and days to half flowering. Conversely, in the subsequent year, traits such as maturity time and primary branches emerged as pivotal contributors, signifying their potential for effective selection in future breeding programs aimed at optimizing chickpea yield.