Pulses look promising

02 Jun, 2016 02:00 AM
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Pulse Australias WA industry development manager Alan Meldrum.
Pulse Australias WA industry development manager Alan Meldrum.

PULSE plantings in WA are looking promising this year, despite a shortage of seed in some crops.

Pulse Australia's WA industry development manager Alan Meldrum said generally pulse plantings had increased from last year, but some crop plantings were held back due to seed shortages.

Mr Meldrum said while chickpea plantings had increased, seed shortages meant there wasn't enough to go around in WA.

"We've had three to four indifferent seasons for chickpeas but this year conditions and a strong price meant seed suppliers were short," he said.

"If we had another 4000 to 6000 tonnes of seed available, that would've been great."

Heritage Seeds portfolio manager Steve Emery said the company shipped seed from the eastern States to help ease shortages.

"Unfortunately, due to the past few seasons, chickpeas haven't been strong and therefore we were short of local stocks," Mr Emery said.

"Desi varieties have been particularly popular this year and we expect prices to remain strong over the next six to 12 months."

Mr Meldrum said the push towards pulses was driven by the strong prices and the introduction of new varieties.

"We've seen lupin plantings increase by about 10 per cent from last year due to strong prices versus wheat," Mr Meldrum said.

"The new variety, PBA Jurien has also been popular this year and in general is looking terrific."

He said faba beans were in demand and there some growers in the northern and eastern Wheatbelt were having a go at growing them.

"PBA Samira has had a lot of interest and is already looking very good over existing varieties such as Farah in the South Coastal region.

"It is encouraging to see growers around Cunderdin, Corrigin and Geraldton try them this year too."

Lentils had been popular due to strong prices.

"Agronomically, lentils are a good fit in WA and the fact that the price has gone through the roof has certainly helped," he said

Field peas had seen a slight increase in plantings but harvest issues still meant growers were cautious in growing them.

"Farmers are concerned about growing them due to lodging, slower harvesting and problems in picking up the crop," Mr Meldrum said.

"All the issues are surmountable, but do need a little planning so field peas generally are considered 'too hard'."

Northern Wheatbelt farmers have pulled back on lupins and many have stuck to wheat or fallow rotations, Mr Meldrum said.

South-West and Southern Coastal growers could face issues with waterlogging in all pulse crops.

He said due to the excellent start, post emergent spraying would have to be brought forward and growers should keep an eye on fungal disease.

"Canopy closure will be very early this year, so rather than mid-July, growers will need to go in from mid-June to make sure they can get in under the canopy," he said.

"Botrytis grey mould will be a concern in chickpeas, while pea weevil and budworm could affect pulses in general, so keep on top of post emergent sprays."

Mr Meldrum said in areas that had been particularly wet, waterlogging could lead to deaths in nitrogen fixing bacteria, so some nitrogen may need to be applied.

"While the main benefit of pulse crops is their ability to produce nitrogen, waterlogging and leaching may mean that nitrogen might need to be topped up," he said.

"The best way to check is to dig a couple of plants up and see what's happening in the roots."

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READER COMMENTS

Consolidated
11/06/2016 10:29:45 AM, on Farm Weekly

Nutrition is right on paper, weed banks devastated, diseases under control. The last hurdle and the hardest hurdle - nematodes/rhizo. Only option is legumes or triticale or fallow. That prices are now good the swing is on and all the usual constraints to move quickly are evident.

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