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.

Central Montana Chickpeas

Scientific Name

Cicer arietinum

Growing Season

Planted in May. Harvested in September.


312,000 hundredweight (cwt) in Montana.

Did You Know?

  • A hundredweight equals 100 pounds.
  • Montana produces the 3rd most chickpeas in the United States.
  • Montana produces about 9% of the chickpeas grown in the United States.
  • The name Cicero is derived from the Latin word for chickpea, cicer.
  • Lentils have a high nutritional value, and are one of the oldest known domesticated crops.