RECENT soaking rain in some summer-cropping areas, a buoyant price outlook, and adequate supplies of seed could see Australia plant its biggest ever mungbean area when the main summer planting window opens in December-January.
This is in line with the Australian Mungbean Association’s (AMA) vision, which says that by 2019, mungbean production will grow to produce an average 170,000 tonnes per annum through its permanent and prosperous fit in the farming system.
This would nudge the record production of 2016, when 150,000t was harvested.
Darling Downs-based Agrifoods Australia managing director, Rob Anderson, Dalby, said a shortage of sorghum and maize seed could push summer crop area into mungbeans.
“Mungbeans are a very clear option for many growers, and from Central Queensland to central New South Wales, there’s plenty of area that could be double-cropped or planted into what was fallow over winter.
“The opportunity is there for a very big mungbean crop, and maybe our biggest ever.”
Mungbeans are priced on three grades, with No. 1 mungbeans trading at a premium of around $50 -$100/t over processing-grade, and manufacturing-grade trading at $100-$200/t below.
“The price is still over $1000 a tonne for processing-grade mungbeans, and we’ve got plenty of interest from China; they will be a key buyer.”
Apart from Egypt on faba beans, mungbeans are Australia’s only major pulse market which is not dependent on India and its neighbours. That gives it the brightest prospects of any pulse currently offered out of Australia.
Mungbeans are a 90-day crop. Their major Australian export period starts in late March and runs through until June.
Mungbeans can be grown in the Australian tropics over winter, and Mr Anderson said Agrifoods Australia was receiving some seed which was now nearing the end of its harvest in the Ord region of Western Australia.
“Some of the product has been received, and the remainder will be loaded and despatched over the coming weeks to take the long journey across the country from Kununurra to Dalby.”
Mr Anderson said the Ord crops had generally yielded very well, and quality looked good.
“Samples have been sent away for testing to ensure purity and germination meet the required specifications.
“The message we’d like to get out there is that, whilst there is sufficient seed for a significant planting, demand could be unprecedented this year and seed may run short.”
Australia has a solid reputation for producing high-quality mungbeans based on their size, colour and consistency.
“We get a premium because of that, and because we are producing clean and safe food, which China cares about.”
Mr Anderson said recent expansions at pulse plants meant the industry was well placed to process a crop in the order of the 170,000t hoped for by the AMA in 2019.
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