Monto har­vest comes in

Chick­peas up as bar­ley threat­ened

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE - Jack Lawrie Jack.Lawrie@cnbtimes.com.au

HAR­VEST sea­son is wrap­ping up in the Monto area and it’s not look­ing good for planters of bar­ley.

While wheat-grow­ers en­joyed a suc­cess­ful har­vest and chick­peas boomed this year, an un­ex­pect­edly wet June and an out­break of net blotch bac­te­ria has dev­as­tated lo­cal bar­ley crops.

Monto Grain Co­op­er­a­tive pres­i­dent Lex Dowd said it was good farm­ers did not put all their eggs in one bas­ket.

“The yields for bar­ley was down about 50% due to fun­gal in­fec­tion, and the mar­ket price went down as well,” Mr Dowd said.

“I’d go so far as to call it a dis­as­ter.”

Some bar­ley planters were able to al­le­vi­ate the dam­age by plant­ing mul­ti­ple va­ri­eties.

How­ever, agron­o­mist Kendall Muller said the dif­fer­ence in re­sis­tance would have been neg­li­gi­ble.

“There’s no real va­ri­eties that are highly re­sis­tant at the present time,” Mr Muller said.

He said net blotch was a fairly new strain of dis­ease and breed­ers were still work­ing on ways to counter it.

“Right now, the best bet for farm­ers is to avoid plant­ing any bar­ley in that soil for three to four years,” Mr Muller said.

De­spite a good har­vest for wheat this year, farm­ers aren’t ex­pected to make huge re­turns due to de­clin­ing prices.

The yield for wheat was good, but prices went down from $275 to $235 per tonne.

Mean­while, chick­pea prices climbed dra­mat­i­cally.

Mr Dowd at­trib­uted the in­crease to in­creased im­port de­mand from In­dia.

“World sup­ply and de­mand is what al­ways dic­tates these things, and it’s usu­ally a short­age or crop-fail­ure that dic­tates these things,” he said.

“What that’s done this year is pushed prices over a thou­sand dol­lars a tonne for chick­peas.”

The Monto Grain Co­op­er­a­tive will sell its tak­ings back to the lo­cal mar­kets, while chick­peas are ex­pected to be ex­ported.

PHOTO: LIANA TURNER

HAR­VEST RE­PORT: A suc­cess­ful har­vest for wheat, and a dis­as­ter for bar­ley hit by net blotch.

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