Steve, Erin & Jake from the AgVantage team attended the Mungbean Crop Walk held at Xavier Martin’s property ‘Bourbah’ near Mullaley. The event was held by the Australian Mungbean Association and Pulse Australia and was well attended by industry participants from growers to end users, industry representatives and agronomists, possibly due to the bacon and egg spread put on in the morning by the boys at Pursehouse Rural. The day kicked off with an overview of where the Australian mungbean market is currently positioned in it’s global context and the benefits it can offer growers as an alternative summer crop, with introductory talks by Senior Development Manager of Pulse Australia Gordon Cumming, current head of AMA Todd Jorgensen and Xavier Martin. Xavier won the AMA mungbean crop of the year in 2012, and shared his thoughts on his recent trip to growing regions in India and witnessed the country’s strong appetite for the bean.
Following this we trekked down the paddock to the GRDC mungbean trial plots where Col Douglas told of the work he and the AMA have been putting in to developing new breeds of mungbeans. The most promising line they are hoping will be available for commercial use soon, M07213, showed 12% yield gains over the Crystal variety based on 5 years worth of trials, while also exhibiting increased resistance to Powdery Mildew while maintaining the other benefits of the Crystal variety. Other varieties on trial have shown improved resistance of Halo Blight, a problem which has an increased prevalence during 2013. The improvements the GRDC are making follow the large increase in performance of the initial release of the Crystal variety, which itself saw a 20% increase in yield over its predecessor. These achievements are especially impressive given the size of the industry and funds available to them, especially since mungbeans are relatively new to Australia, having been grown here for the past 30 years, and 3000 years in China.
A few other points on mungbeans taken from the morning include a total crop size this year of about 25,000mt, down significantly from last year’s 50,000mt crop. Demand for mungbeans remains high following on from high prices seen in the last few years of around $900/t. Australia’s competitive advantage in mungbeans comes from our ability to deliver a high quality product to the export market. The sharp discount for grades below processing grade usually experienced in the Australian market reflects the opportunity for consumers to source lower-grade quality product, from growing regions with a significant freight advantage into the subcontinent. This being said mungbeans are able to exhibit strong rates of return, along with the fact that they are generally a 90-day crop. With the investment in research and development going on at the moment the industry is likely going to continue to grow and mungbeans increase as an option for growers looking to plant summer crops.