AUSTRALIA shipped 16,632 tonnes of chickpeas in July, down 36 per cent from the June total of 25,805t, with Pakistan its biggest volume customer, according to the latest export data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Pakistan was the destination for 4474t of Australian chickpeas, just ahead of Bangladesh on 4403t, with the United Arab Emirates once again the third-biggest buyer for the month, this time with 2455t.
In the new-crop market, Australian growers are being offered prices of around $715-$720 per tonne delivered Darling Downs packer as production prospects consolidate.
Central Queensland (CQ) and pockets of the Western Downs and Maranoa will supply the bulk of Australia’s export surplus and both will start their chickpea harvests next month.
Containerised exports will be shipped largely from Brisbane, while any bulk shipments will load in Gladstone and Mackay.
The new-crop shipping program is expected to start in November.
Pulse Australia has forecast Queensland’s new-crop chickpea production at 156,600t, compared with 23,500t for NSW.
These numbers are slightly below the ABARES figures released today by the national forecaster, which pegs Queensland production at 170,000t from 170,000 hectares, and New South Wales production at 25,000t from 25,000ha.
Drought has prevented most Darling Downs and northern New South Wales growers from planting intended chickpea area, and below-average in-crop rainfall outside CQ has limited yield potential in both states.
However, the ability of chickpea taproots to access subsoil moisture has seen most planted crops perform admirably in a tough season.
“They’ve been a bit of winner, especially when planted into wheat stubble, and they should be able to achieve 1t/ha,” MCA Western Downs agronomist Ed Offner said.
Emerald-based Spackman Iker Ag Consulting director Graham Spackman said CQ’s run of frosts has affected chickpeas more than cereals, and the region’s chickpea harvest would start in earnest later this month, and conclude in late October.
ABARES pegs the five-year average to 2018-19 for chickpeas as 401,000t from 317,000ha in NSW, and 476,000t from 335,000ha in Queensland.
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Table 1: ABS chickpea exports data for May, June and July 2019.