Will mungs be worth it?
I HAVE a talk to present to the Australian Mungbean Association regular meeting on Friday, about why you would plant mung beans this summer.
I can answer for the farmer and it is usually about turning their available soil moisture into dollars.
So when agronomists or others sit the AMA industry accreditation course, there is a predicted yield chart in the general agronomy section about turning stored sub-soil moisture into mung bean yields in either very wet years or very dry years.
For example at Dalby in an average in-crop rainfall year – whatever that is – with a starting profile of moisture of 110mm, the crop can yield about 1.75 tonne per ha.
Not bad, and at $1000 per tonne giving you a gross income of $1750 per ha it is easy mathematics.
However that is not the full story as to whether to grow mung beans or not this coming summer.
The dollar returns are not bad and the daytime temperatures we will get this summer ensure a short growing time scale for mungs in the paddock of less than 100 days.
Once again, not the full story of whether to plant mung beans or not.
Yes, the adage of short and quick does the trick is true, as it allows us to consider a double crop into a mid to late winter planted crop.
Now by the book that should be a cereal crop, however many have planted chickpeas into old mung bean ground and then the biggest weed in our favourite winter legume crop is mung beans.
So future cropping alternatives is another consideration.
What other aspects do you consider agronomically?
Well, they are a legume and provided you get inoculation bacteria surviving on the seed into the moist soil profile, you can assume the nitrogen requirement is taken care of.
So no major inputs of 125 to 180kg of N into a summer coarse grain crop pre-applied.
We always probably need a application of starter fertiliser of phosphorous plus or minus zinc, for any crop in summer.
With the battle for weed control in our summer crops, rotation of cropping and therefore rotation of herbicides is a big consideration.
Grass control and broadleaf weed control in all our summer and winter crops is leaning more to residual type herbicides and these can lock you in no matter what the weather does.
For example, apply 2kg of Atrazine 900 in October to December sorghum and there could be some major risks, in anticipating to grow a wheat or barley crop in there, if profile moisture was suddenly full in May 2018.
How would you determine if the residual qualities of the atrazine have disappeared enough to enable a wheat crop to grow?
The label only reflects the farming practices from many years ago and nothing like we do now, so the residual length or plant back to sensitive crops may well be different.
So while mung beans are shorter in growing time and probably soil water usage, they also use some different herbicides that allow IT friendly wheat and barley varieties to be planted.
Diversity of herbicide mode of action by diversity of cropping systems needs to be part of your program or you will end up using more cultivation and more time spent on a chipping hoe, before weed seed set, no matter what crop you are planting.
Let us chat about my experiences last summer.
It was hot with many record temperatures, particularly post Christmas.
It was also very dry until Cyclone Debbie came through at the end of March.
On the Darling Downs, in our black soil, the temps were reaching well over 60 degrees on the soil surface.
Other locations may have even been hotter.
In my many travels around the area I observed mung bean crops hanging on.
They were still green about 30-odd centimetres high and still trying to flower and pod, after being in the hot ground for 60–90 days.
Grain sorghum right next door was nearly white and some small grain heads were well down in the boot.
A terrible sight last season for any farmer or agro.
Sure, the yields of either crop were not good, however it really did surprise me to see how tough our mung bean varieties had become.
These are some of the considerations you and your agro will need to discuss for the coming summer season.
We need rainfall to fill soil profiles for any crop after last summer and our dry winter, so along with good agronomics and perhaps some friendly type rainfall about 30 days post-plant of your mung bean crop, it will be a much more profitable year for our clean and green mung bean crop.
FAST CASH: There are a few factors to consider when deciding whether mung beans will be your best bet this season.