A bushy plant with feather- or fern-like leaves, chickpeas are well suited to the hot, dry summers of Montana. As long as conditions are good, chickpeas produce a profusion of small flowers, each flower eventually develops into a pod containing 2-3 individual seeds. The pods are light in color and easily noticeable from a distance. Two varieties of chickpeas grow in Montana: Desi, which have a purple flower, and produce a small, dark seed, and Kabuli, which have a white flower and produce a large, pale seed, often called garbanzo beans. Chickpeas require deep soil, but are more drought- and heat-tolerant than other legumes. Chickpeas usually take 100-130 days to mature, and are harvested when the pods obtain a uniform straw color.
As one of the oldest domesticated crops, chickpeas are eaten in a variety of ways across the globe. Extremely healthy and highly versatile, chickpeas can be boiled, roasted, stewed, fried, ground into flour, mashed into hummus, and, occasionally, brewed as a substitute for coffee. They can also be used as livestock feed.