Australian winter pulse crop enjoys excellent conditions
Hopes are high for pulse crops across Australia in the International Year of Pulses. Many regions have experienced excellent sowing conditions and Pulse Australia estimates that the sown area for 2016 will be similar to the 1.9 million hectares planted area of 2015.
Pulse production has increased significantly across Australia in the last 5 years for all the major pulse crops grown. Chickpea remains the dominant crop however significant production gains have also been recorded in faba bean, lentil, field pea, mungbean and lupin. The vast majority of all pulse grain grown in Australia continues to be exported.
Market conditions are generally good for all pulses, with exceptional market support for chickpeas and lentils likely to extend through to the 2016 harvest. Additionally, cereal markets are currently soft, making pulses relatively more profitable on Australian farms.
In Western Australia, the season so far is one of the best ever with chickpea, faba bean, field pea and lupin crops sown into moist soil. Regular rainfall and mild to warm temperatures have created optimum growing conditions.
The current conditions are likely to generate pest and disease pressures on crops and the frost risk seems higher than usual in the southerly growing regions.
A potentially prosperous pulse planting season has unfolded across the southern regions of Australia despite dry sowing in April and the seasonal break not coming until mid to late May. However, the mid to low rainfall regions of South Australia and Victoria experienced the wettest May in nine years. With the seasonal break occurring late-May, combined with the well above long term average temperatures, early sown crops germinated quickly with rapid growth in the near perfect growing conditions until the cold snap during the first week of June. Lentil, faba bean and field pea are the dominate pulse crops across the southern region in 2016.
Dry conditions in Queensland and northern New South Wales prevented early sowing with chickpea crops being planted in late June and potentially into July. Many paddocks will require follow-up rain in July for a successful strike and good crop development.
New South Wales lupin and faba bean crops planted dry in April responded to above average soil temperatures and rain in May with good emergence and growth as soon as the rains came in early May. Sowing is on schedule for chickpeas, lentils and field peas.