Anthracnose-resistant lupin set to go

28 Jul, 2012 02:00 AM
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LUPIN enthusiasts have something to look forward to this year with the release of a new variety of anthracnose resistant Albus lupins.

The newest variety, Albus 2014, will be officially released at the Mingenew Irwin Group (MIG) spring field day in September.

While many growers in the northern agricultural region are minimising their lupin rotation the Albus lupin was widely grown in the area leading up to the 1990s.

In 1996 anthracnose destroyed almost the entire crop and decimated the Albus lupin industry in WA.

MIG trial co-ordinator and Planfarm agronomist Richard Quinlan was looking forward to the release of the new variety.

"In the past we have produced really good yields with the Albus lupin," Mr Quinlan said.

"They should be getting a better price than the narrow-leaf varieties and they yield really well on the loams."

Mr Quinlan said the Albus lupin traditionally attracted a premium above the narrow-leaf varieties and expected the crop to be fairly popular if the growers saw those premiums.

"While the Albus is easy to grow and yields well, the markets are smaller and there is more variability in the price which means the premium would need to be there to account for that variability," he said.

"But really in the field you don't compare the Albus and the narrow leaf varieties. You compare the Albus with canola because canola is the other rotational crop that can be grown on the heavier soils.

"So when you run through the gross margins you need the premium there again to make it comparable with canola."

Morton's Seed and Grain managing director John Morton has dealt with the marketing and selling of Albus lupins for many years.

Mr Morton said the Albus industry in WA had shrunk from 40,000 tonnes to just a few thousand since the anthracnose epidemic but was hopeful the new variety would see a rebirth of the industry.

"It may take some time to get it back up again but hopefully we can develop the market back into bulk shipping," he said.

Mr Morton said WA was poised to take back any market share it had lost to the Eastern States over the past decade.

"WA traditionally had an advantage over the Eastern States because of our earlier season and shorter shipping time," he said.

"That advantage was quite valuable but over the course of the last eight or so years New South Wales has become a much bigger producer of Albus and did steal the market.

"But WA could see a recovery of the market, although it may take a little time to steal it back."

Albus lupins are mainly exported to Egypt for human consumption and Mr Morton said this year they provided a $30-$40 premium above the narrow leaf varieties.

"This was a much better price than the previous year but we would expect to be seeing a premium of about that much in a normal year," he said.

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