Markets

Specs in place for No. 2 desi chickpea grade

Liz Wells, August 2, 2021

Chickpea crops like this one north of Moree have had plenty of rain in the year to date. Photo: Lee Coleman, FarmSimple by CroppaCo

A NEW grade for farmer-dressed desi chickpeas has opened to formalise the standard for chickpeas downgraded from the premium segregation.

To be known as CHKP2, the new grade has prompted the longstanding CHKP segregation to be renamed CHKP1, and replaces the unofficial CHKPM grade which had an increased tolerance for mould and poor colour.

Parameters for both grades have been published in the Pulse Australia (PA) 2021-22 standards released today, and are in place ahead the harvest of what is expected to be one of Australia’s bigger chickpea crops.

Bulk handlers are expected to adopt the CHKP2 specifications based on PA’s CSP 4.1.4 and 4.1.5 parameters.

CSP 4.1.1 – CHKP1 formerly CHKP
CSP 4.1.4 – CHKP2
Defective 6pc max by weight includes 2pc max by weight for poor colour 10pc max by weight includes 5pc max by weight poor colour
Poor colour 2pc max by weight includes 1pc max by weight ascochyta 5pc maximum by weight includes 1pc by weight ascochyta
Severely damaged 1 grain max per 200g 10 grains max per 200 grams

Table 1: Minimum receival standard for farmer-dressed desi chickpeas.

 

PARAMETER CSP 4.1.2 – CHKP1 formerly CHKP
CSP 4.1.5 – CHKP2
Defective 8pc max by weight containers, 10pc bulk; both include poor colour 12pc max by weight containers,  15pc bulk; both include poor colour and severely damaged
Poor colour 2pc max by weight includes 1pc max by weight fungal affected 5pc max by weight includes 1pc max by weight fungal affected
Severely damaged 1pc max by weight 1pc max by weight

Table 2: Minimum export standards for farmer-dressed desi chickpeas.

Workshops scheduled

The CHKP2 segregation will be among the topics discussed at workshops to be run by PA in conjunction with the NSW Government’s North West Local Land Services about grain-delivery standards.

“The last time Pulse Australia ran these types of workshop was in 2014, so we are due for an update for growers and advisors to ensure they have the latest information,” PA agronomist and industry development manager for southern Australia Phil Bowden said.

“That includes the introduction of a second grade for chickpeas, which will make a difference to growers,” Mr Bowden said.

The workshops are scheduled to take place at Goondiwindi on August 31, Moree on September 1 and Narrabri on September 2.

They will be addressed by representatives from PA, NSW Department of Primary Industries, and Shepherd Grain, Moree, director Todd Jorgensen.

The workshops will outline pulse delivery standards and sampling methods so farmers and advisors have a better understanding of the parameters that influence the grain quality for access to different markets, and the pricing of different grades.

Bookings to attend the workshops can be made online.

Organisers are mindful of changing COVID restrictions in Queensland and NSW.

“We have a contingency plan for these workshops to be done online if we are not able to conduct them face to face.”

Market to determine pricing

The price spreads between CHKP1 and CHKP2 will be determined by the market as new-crop trade gathers pace ahead of the harvest which is expected to kick off in Central Queensland in October.

The introduction of the CHKP2 grade will not prevent counterparties from setting their own parameters on grades on chickpea contracts.

Minimum receival standards for farmer-dressed chickpeas apply to deliveries to bulk handlers, including chickpeas that have come straight off the header.

Minimum export standards for farmer-dressed chickpeas apply to chickpea sales within the trade, and prior to export, or into the domestic market.

The CHKP2 grade is not in place for export-standard machine-dressed chickpeas.

In recent weeks, current-crop off-spec chickpeas have traded at around $40/t below the premium CHKP trade at $650/t in the DCT market.

PA Standards Committee chair Gerard McMullen said the market has previously worked off the benchmark of the CHKP grade.

“When there’s been a regional issue around quality, we’ve never created a number 2 grade to cater for off-grade chickpeas.

“Now we see the need for greater certainty for growers and for the trade, and this will help to provide it.”

Northern NSW and southern Queensland have had an unusually wet winter to date, and if the showery weather continues into spring, conditions will be conducive to fungal diseases such as ascochyta and botrytis grey mould.

While fungicides enable growers to keep on top of infections which can impact chickpea yield and quality, the CHKP2 segregation may prove particularly handy this season if rain and soggy paddocks prevent timely spraying of crops.

“Pulses are prone to disease, even with appropriate management.”

Avoiding the cliff-face

In its explanatory advice released with the 2021-22 pulse standards, PA said that when chickpeas fell outside the benchmark grade’ specifications, commercial arrangements between contract counterparties had attempted to find a solution to enable deliver of the grain.

“Failing that negotiation, this grain has not been able to be delivered.

“In some instances, bulk-handling companies/processors etc. have created their own grade to cater for receival of this out-of-specification grain.

“Grain may or may not be subsequently used for the human consumption market or for stockfeed, depending on those commercial arrangements and the quality.”

Traders and bulk handlers have been known to reject loads from growers which fail to meet the minimum receival standards for the CHKP segregation and, by negotiation, a market can usually be found for chickpeas to reflect the need for grading prior to sale.

In extreme instances, loads will go to stockfeed, which is generally the buyer of gradings and hulls of machine-dressed chickpeas.

Australia grows mostly desi-type chickpeas in central and northern New South Wales, and in southern and central Queensland, and also produces a small of kabuli-type chickpeas grown mostly in Victoria and southern NSW.

PA forecasts the total national chickpea crop at 662,000 tonnes, down from 752,000t grown last year, and below the record 2016 crop of 2 million tonnes (Mt), followed by a 1Mt crop in 2017, and then two years of drought which curtailed production.

Australia’s biggest chickpea market was India prior to its government introducing a tariff to support local prices, and in recent years, Bangladesh and Pakistan have been the volume customers.

Specifications for the new grade can be found in full within Grain Trade Australia trading standards under Australian Pulse Trading Standards in section 4.

 

 

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