Lentil crop forecast at 341,000t, up from 2018: Pulse Australia

Liz Wells, June 24, 2019

A crop of PBA Hurricane XTA lentils growing in the Victorian Mallee. Photo: CropSmart

PRODUCTION of lentils in Australia is forecast at 341,000 tonnes, up 5 per cent from the 323,000t grown last year, despite a reduced planted area, according to the latest estimate from Pulse Australia.

This forecast lift in production has come from improved yield prospects, and comes in the face of high lentil stocks, largely due to the continued absence of India as Australia’s major customer.

Pulse Australia chief executive officer Nick Goddard said there were some indications that lentil stocks were being slowly depleted.

“The stock levels, combined with access restrictions to India, have brought a bearish sentiment to planting  intentions for this year, with growers favouring barley, faba beans or peas.

“Consequently, area is back by around 20pc which, offset by a yield improvement over last year, will see a slight lift in volume.”

State 2018 final June 2019 estimate
Harvested hectares Tonnes Planted hectares Tonnes
Qld 0 0 0 0
NSW 7,000 5,000 6,000 5,000
Vic 125,000 105,000 100,000 110,000
SA 160,000 200,000 124,000 208,000
WA 11,000 13,000 15,000 18,000
National total 303,000 323,000 245,000 341,000

Table 1: Red and green lentil area and production estimates. Source: Pulse Australia

Drop for lupins

National lupin production from the crop now in the ground is forecast to produce 549,000t, down 17pc from the 2018 tonnage, largely due to a swing out of lupins in Western Australia, Australia’s biggest lupin-producing state.

“The attraction of lupins as a feed source, especially for sheep, has helped shore up pricing, and consequently east coast area is up, particularly in southern New South Wales.”

Mr Goddard said the elimination of anthracnose had also aided confidence in lupins in NSW and Victoria.

“Much of the WA crop was dry sown, but timely rain in the second week of June will ensure the crop establishes well, and given an even chance of exceeding median rainfall, could see an upside in yield”.

State 2018 final June 2019 estimate
Harvested hectares Tonnes Planted hectares
Qld 0 0 0 0
NSW 50,000 38,000 81,000 100,000
Vic 30,000 20,000 33,000 29,000
SA 40,000 35,000 43,000 48,000
WA 371,000 570,000 350,000 372,000
491,000 663,000 507,000 549,000

Table 2: Sweet and albus lupin area and production estimates. Source: Pulse Australia

Repeat of 2018

Pulse Australia said this year’s dry conditions in much of Queensland and northern NSW, a late but good break in southern NSW, Victoria and South Australia, and a very late break in WA were all reminiscent of last year’s experience.

It said any rain in Queensland and northern NSW had served mostly to begin to replenish a dry profile rather than offer good seeding or germination rain.

“Growers were always going to approach winter 2019 with caution, placing their bets more favourably towards cereals than pulses or oilseeds.

“Restricted trade access for pulses, coupled with seasonal uncertainty, has led growers to temper their pulse rotations this year.”

Pulse Australia has forecast a maximum possible national pulse crop of up to 1.8 million tonnes (Mt), down slightly on last year’s crop of 1.9Mt, and some 27pc below the 10-year average.

“However, it is early in the season and the planting window for some pulses, notably chickpeas, remains open for another month or so.

“We would envisage volume forecasts in this report to be the upper end of expectations.”

State Chickpeas Field peas Faba beans Lentils Lupins Total tonnes
Qld 80,000-242,000 2,000 3,000 0 0 85,000-247,000
NSW 30,000-84,000 31,000 27,000 5,000 100,000 193,000-247,000
Vic 44,000 48,000 119,000 110,000 29,000 350,000
SA 17,000 119,000 139,000 208,000 48,000 531,000
WA 7,000 14,000 3,000 18,000 372,000 414,000
National  178,000-394,000 214,000 291,000 341,000 549,000 1,571,000 – 1,789,000
% change on yr
-36%-+40% -16% +47% +5% -17% 3,144,000-3,578,000

Table 3: Estimated production of Australia’s major pulse crops for 2019. Source: Pulse Australia

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a very dry winter, and most growing regions in eastern Australia are seen as having less than a 35pc chance of exceeding median rainfall.

The first two weeks of June saw two significant fronts move across Southern Australia, dumping 50-100 millimetres of rain in many of the southern and western pulse-growing regions, with similar falls recorded in Central Queensland.

“Unfortunately, northern NSW and southern Queensland have not been able to benefit, placing further pressures on the prospects for chickpeas.”

In contrast, WA is forecast to have 50/50 chance of exceeding median rainfall this winter, and a front on the weekend has brought an ideally-timed 10-40 millimetres of rain to most of its growing areas to follow on from general rain earlier this month.

Source: Pulse Australia




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